Another Organization Says Alcohol Is Never Healthy

When you think of red wine, you probably think of heart health. We’ve been told for decades that a glass of wine can do the heart good. But The Heart Foundation of New Zealand is the latest organization to say otherwise.

Recommendations on alcohol go back and forth. You just have to take a look at the blogs we’ve published on the subject to know that studies on alcohol are complicated! The beverage impacts people in a lot of ways!

Back in January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that no amount of alcohol is safe for human health. According to the WHO, “Alcohol is a toxic, psychoactive, and dependence-producing substance and has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen… this is the highest risk group, which also includes asbestos, radiation and tobacco.”

We cannot talk about a so-called safe level of alcohol use. It doesn’t matter how much you drink – the risk to the drinker’s health starts from the first drop of any alcoholic beverage. The only thing that we can say for sure is that the more you drink, the more harmful it is – or, in other words, the less you drink, the safer it is,” explained Dr. Carina Ferreira-Borges, Regional Advisor for Alcohol and Illicit Drugs in the WHO Regional Office for Europe.

Later in January, the World Heart Federation denounced alcohol as well. “At the World Heart Federation, we decided that it was imperative that we speak up about alcohol and the damages to health, as well as the social and economic harms, because there is an impression in the population in general, and even among health care professionals, that it is good for the heart,” said Beatriz Champagne, chair of the advocacy committee. “It is not, and the evidence has increasingly shown that there is no level of alcohol consumption that is safe for health.”

When the World Heart Federation made its policy brief, many criticized it. Critics pointed to specific studies that showed alcohol could promote small benefits to some heart conditions. In response, the American Heart Association (AHA) said moderation is key to safe drinking. They also said that, upon reviewing all of the recent research on alcohol and heart health, they don’t recommend trying to drink for health. They believe that if someone doesn’t drink, they shouldn’t start drinking, and if someone does drink, they should limit how much they have.  

Now, The Heart Foundation in New Zealand has agreed with the WHO and AHA: no amount of alcohol is safe, it’s bad for your heart and people should cut back.

No matter where you are on the scale of alcohol consumption, less is better,” said The Heart Foundation’s medical director Dr. Gerry Devlin.

Dr. Devlin pointed to research that showed that drinking alcohol increases the risk of heart conditions, including strokes, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure and heart failure.  

Our latest guidance is important because it provides greater certainty about the effect of alcohol on heart disease outcomes and indicates there is no safe level or protective effect from alcohol,” Dr. Devlin said. Then he echoed the AHA, “We’re saying if you don’t drink alcohol – don’t start. If you do drink alcohol – it’s better to drink less.”

With these warnings from international sources, if you have been considering cutting back or giving up alcohol, now might be the time to do so. If you like beer, wine or spirits, that’s fine, just be conscious of your choices and watch your intake for the sake of your health!

Banner image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

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