Friday, April 24, 2015
Moderate alcohol benefits vary by race and gender
Compared with no alcohol consumption, sensible levels of drinking have correlated with better heart health. However, a new analysis has revealed that a cardio-protective link from moderate drinking is not the same for people of African ancestry as it is for white ethnicity, and nor across the genders. For males, the lowest risk of mortality related to alcohol consumption was - in white men - linked to having 1-2 drinks on 3-7 days a week. In black men, however, it was found in those who never drank. Moderate drinking was protective for females similarly - for white, but not for black women. The lowest risk of mortality was among white women consuming one drink on 3-7 days a week, but among black women, the lowest death rates were among those having one drink on 2 or fewer days a week. The study's lead author says that the findings could change public health policy. Chandra Jackson, PhD, epidemiologist and research associate in clinical and translational research at Harvard, says: "Current dietary guidelines recommend moderate consumption for adult Americans who consume alcoholic beverages. Our study suggests that additional refinements based on race/ethnicity may be necessary." Among white men and women, moderate alcohol consumption on most days of the week was associated with lowest mortality risk, but black men and women with similar drinking patterns did not have the same risk reduction compared with those who abstained or drank infrequently. Touching on potential biological differences, meanwhile, the researchers discuss confusing results: "The rapid metabolism of alcohol among blacks resulting from potential genetic differences could reduce cardiovascular benefits, yet we found a suggestion of benefit for light consumption among black women, but not among black men."