Good Cholesterol Decline Slows with Moderate Alcohol Consumption

November 30th 2016
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor
Lauren Santye, Assistant Editor

Link found between moderate drinking and the slowing of high-density lipoprotein levels.

Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a slower decline in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels compared with non-drinkers or heavy drinkers.

A community-based study evaluated the relationship between alcohol intake and goodcholesterollevels in 80,000 Chinese adults for more than 6 years.

Participants were grouped by self-reported drinking status, from never drinking to heavy drinking, defined as more than 1 daily serving for women and more than 2 daily servings for men.

The results of the preliminary study found that over time, HDL levels decreased in all participants; however, moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a slower decline compared with non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.

Moderate drinkers, defined as one-half to 1 serving daily for women and 1 to 2 alcohol servings daily for men, had the slowest decline of 0.17 mmol/per year. Heavy drinkers almost completely eliminated the benefit, with only .0008 mmol/per year decline.

The study findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2016.

The researchers also sought to analyze whether the benefits from alcohol consumption were dependent on the type of alcohol consumed.

In self-reported moderate beer drinkers, HDL levels also decreased more slowly, while only light-to-moderate consumption of hard liquor resulted in slower rates of HDL decline, according to the study.

Light drinking was defined as less than 1 serving per day for men and 0 to 0.4 servings per day in women. There were not enough wine drinkers in the study for researchers to test the effects of wine on HDL.

Since this effect was only tested on the Chinese population, the authors said that further research is needed to determine whether this effect is observed in other populations, such as the United States. Furthermore, the researchers still need to determine if there are significant and clinically-relevant outcomes based on the type of alcohol consumed.

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