What place, if any, does information on putative cardioprotective effects of moderate alcohol use have in safer drinking guidelines?

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Abstract

Introduction and Aims.

The majority view among alcohol epidemiologists is that the lower coronary heart disease mortality observed in moderate drinkers is probably evidence for a protective effect of moderate drinking. In this paper I critically discuss the debate about what type of information, if any, should be provided to the public about the putative coronary heart disease benefits of moderate alcohol use.

Results.

Most opposition to informing the public about these putative benefits is based on the fear that such advice will increase per capita alcohol consumption and therefore alcohol-related harm. It is unclear how well-based these concerns are. In the interim, the alcohol industry has communicated these putative benefits to the public.

Conclusions.

There is a case for including some information on these putative benefits in specific safer drinking guidelines for middle-aged and older drinkers that: clearly conveys the remaining uncertainty about the benefits of moderate drinking, emphasises the conditional nature of any such benefits, and stresses the need to balance the potential benefits against the increased sensitivity of older adults to other adverse effects of alcohol, and the increased risk of interactions between alcohol and other medications used by older adults.[Hall W. What place, if any, does information on putative cardioprotective effects of moderate alcohol use have in safer drinking guidelines? Drug Alcohol Rev 2012;31:194–197]

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