Men who drink alcohol every day can reduce the risk of a heart attack by almost an average of one-third according to a long-term study among Spanish men published in a British medical journal, on Thursday.
Researchers tracked more than 41,500 men and women aged between 29 and 69 - - 15,630 men and 25,808 women - - over a decade and profiled their lifestyles and health experiences as part of a European study of cancer.
During the study, from the research group, there were 609 cases of heart attacks and other "coronary events," with a gender breakdown: 481 men and 128 among women.
Among men, the researchers observed that those drinking moderate, high and very high levels of alcohol all had a lower risk of coronary heart disease compared with non-drinkers.
For former drinkers, the risk was 10 percent lower; for those drinking little (0.5 grammes of alcohol per day), the risk was 35 percent; for moderate drinkers (five-30 grammes per day), the risk was 54 percent lower; and for high (30-90 grammes per day) and very high drinkers (more than 90 grammes per day) it was halved.
The study says, by way of comparison, a 285ml glass of heavy beer containing 4.9 percent of alcohol amounts to 11 grammes, while a 180ml glass of wine with 12 percent alcohol has 17.06 grammes.
Women also gained from alcohol intake, but the effects were not statistically significant, which may be due to lower numbers of "coronary events" in that group, according to the researchers.
The type of alcohol consumed did not affect the level of protection.
Last year, Japanese scientists reported in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke that heavy drinking may protect men from heart disease, although it raises the risk in women. The likelihood of stroke increased in both men and women.
Spain is ranked third globally in beer and wine production and ranks sixth in per capita alcohol consumption but the country also has one of the lowest death rates from coronary heart disease.
The Spanish study, which appears in Heart, a journal of the British Medical Association (BMA), says the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that of the approximately two billion people out of Earth's 6.7 billion who drink alcohol regularly, over 76 million have ill health as a result.
Global alcohol rankings