A new study challenges the widely held belief that light drinking of alcohol may be good for your heart.
Researchers analyzed more than 50 studies that examined drinking habits and heart health in more than 260,000 people.
They found that those with a form of a gene tied to lower levels of drinking generally had healthier hearts. The gene affects how a person’s body breaks down alcohol, resulting in unpleasant symptoms such as nausea and facial flushing. Having this variant has been shown to lead to lower drinking over the long term, the researchers explained.
On average, people with the gene had lower blood pressure, lower body-mass index (an estimate of body fat based on height and weight) and a 10 percent lower risk of heart disease.
The results suggest that cutting alcohol intake — even for light-to-moderate drinkers — benefits heart health, according to the authors of the study in the July 11 issue of the BMJ.