Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Can drinking red wine prevent heart disease?

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Q. I've heard that red wine can prevent heart disease. Is that an old wives' tale?

A. There's a lot of evidence indicating that it's true. Large observational studies indicate that the most common kind of heart disease, coronary artery disease, is less likely in moderate drinkers than in people who do not drink. Moderate drinkers are men who take one or two alcoholic drinks per day and women who take one drink per day. On the other hand, people who are heavier drinkers have a higher risk of other types of heart disease, particularly cardiomyopathy that leads to heart failure. They also have more strokes. So too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

The benefits of moderate alcohol intake appear to apply not only to healthy people but also to people with coronary artery disease risk factors or coronary artery disease itself. I think that the evidence does not give red wine any special benefit when compared with other alcoholic drinks. I don't advise nondrinkers who have had problems with alcohol abuse to start imbibing again. There are other ways to protect the heart.?

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