Krishna Aragam, MD, MS, cardiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital and associate scientist at Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and senior author of the alcohol study.
There’s bad news and good news about beverages and heart disease…
Bad news: A glass of wine with dinner won’t help your heart. Earlier studies had suggested that moderate alcohol consumption might reduce rates of heart disease. But when researchers used modern statistical techniques to analyze more than 370,000 adults, they found that isn’t so. Moderate drinkers tend to have low heart disease rates, but that’s because they tend to exercise, eat vegetables and live healthy lives. Drinking about one drink per day or less has minimal impact…but more substantial drinking dramatically increases risk for heart problems.
Good news: Coffee consumption is associated with lower risk for heart disease and longer lifespan. Previously, there had been concerns that the temporary heart-rate increases caused by caffeine meant that coffee posed a health risk. But when researchers tracked more than 382,000 adults for a decade or longer, they found that drinking two to three cups of coffee per day seems to lower risk for coronary heart disease, heart failure and other heart issues by 10% to 15%. Coffee also benefits people who already suffer from cardiovascular disease—they were less likely to die during the study period if they drank two to three cups of coffee per day.
What to do: If you’re in good health and enjoy an alcoholic drink every so often, do so in moderation. If you like coffee, go on drinking it…and if you have a history of heart disease, ask your doctor whether coffee might be beneficial.