“This would not change our current guidelines, which provide an upper limit and not a lower limit, no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink a day for women,” said Dr. Kenneth J. Mukamal, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and an internist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is lead author of one of the reports published online March 23 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Specifically, the study tries to separate out the health effects of people who list themselves as abstainers, some of whom have never touched the stuff and others who were heavy drinkers but gave it up because of possible damage to their health.
“Some studies have done better than others at that, but this is by far the largest effort to do it,” Mukamal said. “We have data on more than 2 million person-years, appropriately weighted so that it is representative of Americans over the last 20 years.”
The results “dovetail nicely” with those of previous reports, but “they are not likely to lead to any recommendation to drink alcohol,” Mukamal said, since drinking can have adverse effects on organs outside the cardiovascular system.