MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There’s a new study that finds even light drinking could increase your chance of dying by 20-percent. That’s in contrast to other studies that have found moderate alcohol consumption is good for some people.

So, what are people to believe when it comes to moderate drinking? Good Question.

“It’s a little challenging,” says University of Minnesota Health cardiologist Dr. Kimara March. “As a doctor, we never tell a patient to start drinking.”

Dr. March says it’s hard to determine the health risks and benefits of light drinking because it’s hard to have randomized controlled trials.

“That’s because we’d have to tell a person, hey, for the rest of your life you can’t drink and you need to drink and compare what happened,” March said.

A recent analysis of studies on this topic found that the control group of abstainers tend to be less healthy in general. Often, that group includes former alcoholics, people with liver disease or low-income people, which makes it difficult to isolate the effect of alcohol on health.

In some studies, researchers have found heart benefits, like an increase in HDL cholesterol, considered the good kind.

“And, it can help calm people down,” March said.

But, other researchers have found health risks, including increased risk of breast cancer and higher blood pressure. Dr. March also points out people needs to consider the calories in an alcoholic drink.

Her recommendation is less than seven drinks per week for women (one per day) and less than 14 drinks per week for men.

“And, to not start drinking if they already haven’t,” March said.

Heather Brown

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