The relationship between alcohol use and cardiovascular disease is repeatedly investigated in epidemiological studies, and mostly described as J-shaped or U-shaped with a higher risk for non-drinkers and heavy drinkers, and a lower risk for moderate drinkers (1). However, there is still a scientific debate on the apparent protective effects of alcohol use on coronary heart disease, which is not ready to be closed down (2, 3). Several possible biological mechanisms have been brought forward to explain the apparent beneficial effects of moderate alcohol use (4, 5). Alcohol use has been found to increase high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, to reduce blood clotting and platelet aggregation, to decrease insulin resistance and increase insulin sensitivity, to reduce plasma homocysteine levels, to increase paraoxonase activity, and to raise oestrogen levels. Negative effects of increased alcohol use are an increase in blood pressure and damage to myocardial tissue. The question remains whether alcohol use is really beneficial, there might be other explanations, such as psychological mechanisms or methodological pitfalls, relevant in explaining the J-shaped curve in addition to these potential biological explanations.

, , ,
EMC Rotterdam, Netherlands Heart Foundation, Foundation for the Moderate Use of Alcohol (STIVA), IVO Addiction Research Institute
J.A. Knottnerus (André) , M.J. Drop , H.F.L. Garretsen (Henk)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Veenstra, M. (2010, May 28). Alcohol and Cardiovascular Disease: Impact of Life Events and Social Support (A Primary Care-based Longitudinal Study). Retrieved from