Too Much Hooch Bad for Your Ticker

A new study has determined that heavy drinkers have higher blood pressure, stiffer arteries, and more rigid heart muscles. Julie Steenhuysen of Reuters reports:
They defined heavy drinking as more than 21 drinks a week for men and more than 14 per week for women.

"We definitely see quite a deleterious effect," said Dr. Azra Mahmud of St. James Hospital in Dublin, who presented her findings at a meeting of the American Society of Hypertension in New Orleans.

"The most worrisome aspect is in women. It has a direct toxic effect," Mahmud said in a telephone interview. "Basically, women are not able to cope with high alcohol consumption. It is going directly to the heart and damaging it."

Once a heart becomes enlarged -- a sign it has been overtaxed -- it is difficult to reverse. Mahmud said prior studies have suggested that people with enlarged hearts are five to six times more likely to have heart attacks.

Moderate drinking has been shown in many studies to have heart benefits. But heavy drinking counteracts these benefits and can cause serious harm, she said.
Now, Dr. Fuhrman wouldn’t certainly encourage you not to drink heavily or moderately for that matter. He explains:
Recent studies show that even moderate alcohol consumption is linked to significantly increased incidence of atrial fibrillation,1 a condition that can lead to stroke, and to higher rates of breast cancer.2,3


Alcohol is not actually heart-healthy. It simply has anti-clotting effects, much like aspirin.

Researchers have found that even moderate consumption of alcohol—including wine—interferes with blood clotting and, thereby, reduces heart attacks in high-risk populations—people who eat the typical, disease-promoting American diet.

Moderate drinking is defined as a maximum of two drinks for men. Consuming more than this is associated with increased fat around the waist4 and other potential problems. For example, alcohol consumption leads to mild withdrawal sensations the next day that are commonly mistaken for hunger, which leads people to eat more than is genuinely necessary, resulting in weight gain.
If you’re eating for health, drinking is defenitly a drink at your own risk situation. I know that’s how I look at it. My personal rules for drinking can be found in this post: Beer Muscles Explained. 1. Jancin B. Just a few drinks raise risk of atrial fibrillation. Family Phsyician News. January 11, 2002;4.

2. Wright RM, McManaman JL, Rapine JE. Alcohol-induced breast cancer: a proposed mechanism. Free Radic Biol Med 1999; 26(3-4): 348-354.

3. Dorgan JF, Baer DJ, Albert PS, et al. Serum hormones and the alcohol-breast cancer association in postmenopausal women. J Natl Cancer Inst 2001; 93(9): 710-716.
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