Beer and high blood pressure: drinking in moderation lowers cardiovascular risk
Beer could be taking a front seat, next to red wine, in terms of positive effects on blood pressure and cardiovascular health (click here to read the article on wine). This is the conclusion of a study carried out by the Research Labs of the “Giovanni Paolo II” Foundation in Campobasso, Italy. Of course, be it wine or beer, the key word is moderation.
The study, published online by the European Journal of Epidemiology, used the statistical method of meta-analysis, which allowed to consider a variety of scientific studies conducted all over the world and give an overall conclusion. This allowed the study to examine data relative to over 20,000 people, whose drinking habits were compared to their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
The general results confirm what we already knew about wine: moderate consumption (about two glasses a day for men and one for women) can lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease by as much as 31%, compared to those who don’t drink any at all.
The real discovery of this study is related to the data on beer. In fact, this study scientifically documented the relationship between moderate quantities of beer and cardiovascular protection for the very first time. The best results are observed for a moderate consumption, corresponding to about 600 ml of a 5% beer divided into 3 small glasses throughout the day.
Simona Costanzo, lead author of the study, explains that the study considered beer and wine separately. You can observe a decrease in risk with low or moderate consumption. Then, with an increase in quantity, this benefit disappears and gradually the risk becomes higher than for non-drinkers. She claims that the interesting part of the study is that 12 of the studies selected for meta-analysis directly compared beer and wine consumption, and this data allowed them to observe that the curves for cardiovascular protection curves for the two beverages are very similar.
However, beer and wine drinkers should use caution before toasting to these results. Augusto Di Castelnuovo, head of the Research Labs’ Statistics Unit and a pioneer in epidemiologic studies on alcohol consumption, highlights that the results are based on moderate and regular drinking habits. The idea is that wine or beer are part of a lifestyle where a glass accompanies a healthy dish, consumed in a regular manner and possibly in pleasant company. There is no place for binge drinking or any other form of abuse.
Dr Castelnuovo also stresses that the data presented cannot be applied to all individuals. For example, in young women, alcohol consumption can increase the risk of certain types of tumor, which could counterbalance the positive effects on the cardiovascular system, thus reducing the overall beneficial effect on health.
Giovanni de Gaetano, Director of the Research Labs of the “Giovanni Paolo II” Foundation, states that this study is part of a philosophy that his group has long embraced, which is that of looking at the real lives of people. Health and illness are conditions that derive from our lifestyle, and a healthy lifestyle is a key element of the medicine of the future.
Scientific articles below:
- The non-alcoholic fraction of beer increases stromal cell derived factor 1 and the number of circulating endothelial progenitor cells in high cardiovascular risk subjects: a randomized clinical trial. (Atherosclerosis. 2014 Apr;233(2):518-24) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0021915014000240
- Relationships between Diet, Alcohol Preference, and Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes among Americans (PLoS One. 2015 May 11;10(5):e0124351) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4427330/
- Wine, beer, alcohol and polyphenols on cardiovascular disease and cancer (Nutrients. 2012 Jul;4(7):759-81.) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3407993/
- Effects of alcohol and polyphenols from beer on atherosclerotic biomarkers in high cardiovascular risk men: a randomized feeding trial (Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jan;25(1):36-45) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0939475314002518