Research Shows Alcohol May Benefit Hearts of New Drinkers


Contact: Heather Woolwine


March 6, 2008

EMBARGO: March 7, 2008/ 5 a.m. EST

Research Shows Alcohol May Benefit Hearts of New Drinkers

Study participants showed lower rates of cardiovascular disease after 4 years

CHARLESTON -- A Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Department of Family Medicine study concluded that people who began moderately consuming alcohol in middle-age experience a quick benefit of lower rates of cardiovascular disease morbidity with no change in mortality after four years. In addition, the study found that those who consumed alcohol for the heart health benefits rarely drank more than recommended amounts. The study has been published in the March issue of the American Journal of Medicine, and was conducted by MUSC?s Dana E. King M.D., Arch G. Mainous III, Ph.D, and Mark E. Geesey.

"Most people are aware that moderate alcohol use can be part of a healthy lifestyle, yet current guidelines caution non-drinkers against starting to drink in middle age," said King, lead author of the study. "We wanted to evaluate whether adopting moderate alcohol consumption in middle-age would lower cardiovascular risk. We were excited to find that moderate alcohol consumption, or one to six servings a week, lowered cardiovascular risk for our participants."

In contrast to a recently published study in the British Public Library of Science journal, PLoS Medicine, MUSC's study showed no increase in blood pressure for participants at moderate consumption levels (two drinks per day or fewer for men, one drink per day or fewer for women) during the four years of the study. New moderate drinkers had a 38 percent lower chance of developing cardiovascular disease than did their persistently non-drinking counterparts. This difference remained after adjustment for demographic and cardiovascular risk factors.

About MUSC

Founded in 1824 in Charleston, The Medical University of South Carolina is the oldest medical school in the South. Today, MUSC continues the tradition of excellence in education, research, and patient care. MUSC educates and trains more than 3,000 students and residents, and has nearly 10,000 employees, including 1,300 faculty members. As the largest non-federal employer in Charleston, the university and its affiliates have collective annual budgets in excess of $1.3 billion. MUSC operates a 600-bed medical center, which includes a nationally recognized Children's Hospital and a leading Institute of Psychiatry. For more information on academic information or clinical services, visit or