"Everything should be done in moderation", goes the old proverb, especially when it's about alcohol consumption. A little won't hurt, but a lot can kill you. So how much is a lot actually?
The newest finds are stunning. And confronting to some maybe. For decades, we were told that a drink every now and then could protect us against a heart attack. The alcohol keeps the veins clean and safe against clogging. BUT: too much drinking can poison the heart. Where is the line between what's good for you and bad?
For a new report in the professional magazine for cardiovascular imaging, 4,466 senior citizens were asked about their alcohol consumptions. Then, echocardiograms were made to see whether there were changes in the heart structure. Conclusion? The more a person had drunk in his life, the more defects were found.
Man or woman
The hearts of men who took more than two drinks a day, or 14 or more units per week, had enlarged but were also weaker because they had to pump harder. The same results were seen in women who drank a little over one drink a day.
Future research should address the question of how long people drink regularly. As with every exposure, the effects of alcohol could be cumulative. Since the test cases had an average age of 76 years old, their hearts showed the consequences of decades of exposure to alcohol. It is not yet clear whether there is a threshold past which the damaging effects overtake the positive effects of alcohol.
More than two drinks a day
"From the moment a man drinks more than two drinks a day, you begin to see subtle hints of toxic effects on the heart. These can cause problems in the long run", according to Professor Scott Solomon. The Harvard Medical School Cardiologist supervised the research. "That threshold is even lower for women".
Although the negative effects of alcohol on the heart vary from person to person, a maximum of two drinks a day seems the directive. With more than two units per day, you drink yourself into the danger zone.