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So? (Or why a single study often means nothing)

Posted by moddoctor On February - 19 - 2008

I just spotted this new Canadian study that purports to demonstrate that a single drink of alcohol is good for one’s heart while more than one negates that effect. This doesn’t does in fact show that heart rate and blood pressure drop immediately with a single drink and rise with increasing amounts of alcohol. This involved 13 volunteers observed in real time. This is an interesting finding but changes nothing. It’s the kind of story that will get major press coverage and without considering things in context will appear to negate 30 years of medical literature to the contrary. That’s simply not what this study shows. This study demonstrates a single short term metabolic effect of a single component of alcoholic beverages. That’s all this study shows. The choices of alcoholic beverage were made seemingly to confound things on purpose.

The Canadian researchers used Pinot Noir high in resveratrol as on of their experimental beverages. I’ve written here on the merits of resveratrol and those previous statements stand because it represents long term changes to cellular metabolism created by the resveratrol component of wine, not the short term changes to heart rate and blood pressure.

HDL (good cholesterol) has long been demonstrated to rise with moderate alcohol consumption regardless of alcohol source. Moderate alcohol consumption represents one or two drinks per day and according some investigators a little more than that. So, even in the range the Canadians call out, the benefits of alcohol for its own sake are well documents. Mind you people unable to tolerate changes in their heart rate or brief increases in blood pressure are well advised to avoid drinking all together.

So what is the take home message of today’s publication? There’s no change. Moderate consumption of alcohol is still beneficial over the long term regardless of what popular media outlets might portray as they cover this single study.

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