Thinking about cutting back on booze? Just one glass of wine a day can increase heart disease risk

A new study has found young women are at a significantly greater risk of developing heart disease if they drink a little more than one glass of wine a day.

Scientists in California studied the drinking habits of 430,000 adults in California over a period of four years.

During that time, 3,108 developed heart disease, which can lead to conditions such as heart attacks, angina and strokes.

The research indicated that the more people drank, the more likely they were to be diagnosed with heart disease, with women more greatly affected. The scientists behind the study believe this is caused by alcohol raising blood pressure which causes inflammation, even in younger adults.

The participants were categorised into three groups based on their alcohol consumption. Low was one to two drinks per week. Moderate was classed as three to 14 drinks per week for men, and three to seven drinks per week for women. High drinking was 15 or more drinks per week for men, and eight or more drinks per week for women.

Women with high alcohol intake had a 45% higher risk of heart disease than low drinkers, even when considering age. Meanwhile, binge drinking also had a hugely significant impact; women who binge drank were 68% more likely to develop heart disease.

glasses of wine
Carlo Prearo - Getty Images

Dr Jamal Rana, the chief cardiologist and the study’s lead author, said: “Women feel they’re protected against heart disease until they’re older, but this study shows that even when you’re young or middle aged, if you are a heavy alcohol user or binge drink, you are at risk for coronary heart disease.

“For women, we find consistently higher risk even without binge drinking. I wasn’t expecting these results among women in this lower age group because we usually see increased risk for heart disease among older women. It was definitely surprising.”

The news may be seen as worrying for some; a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that British women top the list for the world’s biggest female binge drinkers, with 26% of UK women bingeing – defined as drinking six drinks or more in a single session – at least once a month.

The NHS recommends that people drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more.

If you are concerned about your drinking, or are looking to cut back, Cosmopolitan UK has some hints and tips on how to drink more mindfully. You can read articles on this here.

To learn more about responsible drinking or to seek help regarding your relationship with alcohol, visit Alcohol Change UK

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