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Everyday Health: Is Alcohol Good for Your Heart?

Everyday Health recently interviewed Martha Gulati, MD, director of Preventive Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about the effects of alcohol consumption on heart health.

Past studies have indicated that moderate alcohol intake—up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—may benefit the heart and increase levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol, in the blood.

But the benefits are still unproven, Gulati told Everyday Health.

“These are not clinical trials,” said Gulati, who also holds the Anita Dann Friedman Chair in Women’s Cardiovascular Medicine and Research. “These are observational studies. It may be that those who drank wine in these studies were healthier in other ways, such as adhering to a healthier diet.”

Other recent studies have found that moderate or even light alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of heart disease and some cancers.

Gulati told Everyday Health that avoiding alcohol altogether is the healthiest and least risky option.

“My advice is if you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start,” Gulati said. “If you do drink alcohol, drink as little as possible and definitely no more than one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men. If you skip a day or two, that doesn’t mean it’s okay to catch up and have three glasses in one night.”

Other health risks associated with alcohol consumption include liver disease, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) and certain neurological diseases.

Click here to read the complete article in Everyday Health.