Back away from the chardonnay!

A drink a day reduces men's heart disease risk, but not women's. What a buzz kill.

Page Rockwell
May 26, 2006 9:59PM (UTC)

I have to admit, when I read the headline "Daily Drinks Good for Men, Not Women," I was disappointed. Are experts now saying that the one slightly hedonistic way to lessen one's risk of heart disease doesn't apply to chicks? Apparently so. Most coronary heart disease research thus far has been done on men, so while "it is widely known that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of coronary heart disease than those who abstain," explains, "little is known about drinking patterns and the risk of heart disease among women."

A recent study in Denmark has given researchers some more information on women, and daily drinks don't seem to significantly lessen women's heart disease risk. "Men who drank daily had a 41% reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with a 7% drop in men who drank once a week," the BBC reports. "But for women, although drinking on at least one day a week was associated with a 36% reduced risk of heart disease compared to those who drank more rarely, the risk was the same whether women had one drink a week or drank moderately each day."


The solution, the BBC says, is to go on a one-day bender each week: "The researchers said how much women drank may be more important for protection against heart disease than how often they drank." (Wait, no, they don't actually say that. In fact, they emphasize that "experts warned the results, published in the British Medical Journal, should not be used to justify heavy drinking." Zounds!)

In all seriousness, drinking to prevent heart disease could wind up boosting your risk of cancer or liver damage, so it seems wise to abide by the current recommendations and drink in moderation (or, if you or your family struggle with addiction, or if you're just not a drinker, by eating oatmeal, going jogging and all the other non-alcohol-related ways to help your ticker). Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S., so it's important to be vigilant -- for more information on assessing your risk of cardiovascular disease, check out this goofily femme-y but nevertheless useful information page from the American Heart Association.

Page Rockwell

Page Rockwell is Salon's editorial project manager.

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