Light-to-moderate drinkers tend to display an overall better cardiovascular health and longevity compared with abstainers or heavy drinkers (Klatsky et al., 1981; Maskarinec et al., 1998; Gaziano et al., 2000; Maraldi et al., 2006). In addition to reducing the risk of atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks, and angina pectoris (Camargo et al., 1997a; Dey and Choudhury, 1997; Frid, 2000; Samanek, 2000; Agarwal and Srivastava, 2001), light-to-moderate drinking is also generally beneﬁcial in minimizing the risk of stroke (Elkind et al., 2006), peripheral artery disease (Camargo et al., 1997b), hypertension (Gillman et al., 1995; Thadhani et al., 2002) and diabetes.
Source : Vascular Pharmacology Volume 57, Issues 2–4, Pages 69-71
Although it's now generally accepted that light-to-moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial to cardiovascular health, it's also clear that heavy use is detrimental to the same system.
The reasons for the beneficial effects are still not fully understood, and neither is the abrupt crossover into cardiovascular damage for heavier drinkers.
Further prospective studies in humans will have to further dwell on the underlying mechanisms for both beneficial and adverse effects of alcohol.
(source as above)
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