Beer and health: Another view

Scottish study questions value of alcohol in battling heart disease

June 25, 1999 - Differing from studies that have found that alcohol may help protect against heart disease, research from Scotland indicates there is no evidence of health benefits from alcohol.


"We have shown in this (group) of Scottish men there is no clear relation between alcohol consumption and mortality from coronary heart disease, but there is a strong relation with risk of mortality from stroke,'' Dr. George Dave Smith of the Unversity of Bristol wrote in The British Medical Journal.

His conclusions are based on a study that included 5,766 men in Scotland over a 21-year period. The researchers found no difference in the risk of any cause of death between moderate drinkers, who consumed up to 14 units of alcohol a week, and non-drinkers. But men who drank over 35 units of alcohol a week had double the risk of dying from a stroke than the men who didn't drink. The study defined a unit of alcohol as the equivalent of half a pint of beer (10 ounces), a glass of wine or a single measure of liquor.

The researchers think drinking patterns could account for the difference between their findings and other studies which have shown protective health benefits of alcohol. A daily glass of wine is probably healthier than weekend binge drinking, they said.

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