Moderate alcohol consumption can reduce the risk of hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases and other conditions.
According to new research from the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, Pozzilli, Italy, people with moderate alcohol consumption have a lower risk of hospitalisation than both heavier drinkers or those who are teetotal.
The research has been published in the scientific journal Addiction and involved 21,000 participants in the Moli-sani epidemiological study, who were followed for over 6 years. During this time, their drinking habits were related to their number of hospital admissions.
What counts as moderate alcohol consumption?
The research defines moderate alcohol consumption as one glass of wine a day, as in the general principles of the Mediterranean diet.
Simona Costanzo, the first author of the paper, said: “We observed that a heavy consumption of alcohol is associated with a higher probability of hospitalization, especially for cancer and alcohol-related diseases. This confirms the harmful effect of excessive alcohol drinking on the health. On the other hand, those who drink in moderation present a lower risk of hospitalization for all causes and for cardiovascular diseases compared to lifetime abstainers and former drinkers.”
The implications of the study
Speaking about the importance of the study, Licia Iacoviello, Head of the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology of I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed and professor of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Insubria in Varese, said: “Hospital admissions, in fact, represent not only a serious problem for people, but they have also a strong impact on National health systems.”
However, as Ken Mukamal, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, explains: “We are absolutely not saying that any teetotaler should start drinking to improve his/her health. However, this research reaffirms that the effects of alcohol consumption cannot be reduced to a single catchphrase or punchline. This very comprehensive study clearly shows that we need to consider its health effects based upon both dose and disease”.