Public Release: 

Moderate alcohol intake may slow good cholesterol's decline

Poster: S2064 - Session: LF.APS.P44

American Heart Association

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 13, 2016 -- In a study of 80,000 healthy Chinese adults, moderate drinking was associated with slower declines in high-density lipoprotein (HDL), or good cholesterol, over time, according to a preliminary study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2016.

Researchers followed alcohol consumption and HDL levels for more than six years in this community-based study. They grouped the adults by self-reported drinking status, from never, to heavy drinking (more than one daily serving of alcohol for women and more than two daily servings for men). They found:

  • HDL levels decreased over time in all participants, but moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a slower decline compared to non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.
  • Moderate drinkers (men drinking one to two alcohol servings daily and women a half to one serving daily) had the slowest decline - 0.17 mmol/per year.
  • Heavy drinking nearly eliminated this benefit with only .0008 mmol per year decline.

The researchers also analyzed whether the benefits of alcohol consumption depended on the type alcohol consumed. They found levels of HDL also decreased more slowly with self-reported moderate beer consumption. Among hard liquor drinkers, only self-reported light (men drinking less than 1 serving a day; women drinking zero to .4 servings daily) to moderate drinking resulted in slower rates of HDL decline.

There weren't enough wine drinkers to test wine's effects on HDL, researchers said. Further studies are needed to determine if this effect is observed in other populations, such as a U.S. population, and whether there are significant and clinically-relevant outcomes based on the type of alcohol consumed.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming alcohol in moderation if you already drink but cautions people to not start drinking and consult your doctor on your risks and benefits of consuming alcohol in moderation.

###

Shue Huang, Ph.D. candidate, The Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania.

Statements and conclusions of study authors that are presented at American Heart Association scientific meetings are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect association policy or position. The association makes no representation or warranty as to their accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations are available at http://www.heart.org/corporatefunding.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.