People in their 70s who drink up to seven alcoholic beverages per week are likely to live longer and have fewer heart attacks, but heavy drinking could cause death, says a new study.
Cinzia Maraldi from the Institute on Aging at the University of Florida, Gainesville, studied the drinking habits of over 300 people to reach the conclusion, reported the online edition of Daily Mail.
Those who consume one to seven drinks per week are considered light to moderate drinkers, whereas those who consume more than seven drinks per week are considered heavy drinkers.
The researchers classified participants as "never or occasional" drinkers who consumed less than one drink a week.
Compared with never or occasional drinkers, those who drank lightly to moderately had a 26 per cent lower risk of death and an almost 30 per cent reduced risk of cardiac events.
The scientists say the health effects of alcohol may be linked to reduced levels of inflammation.
But this alone cannot explain the extent of the benefit seen in the study, they said. It is possible that alcohol also has cellular or molecular effects that reduce the risk of heart disease, or interact with genetic factors in a protective way.
Having a daily drink or two can improve your health, they said.
However, heavy drinkers are more likely to die or experience a cardiac event than those who drank the least, the researchers warn in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
"The net benefit of light to moderate alcohol consumption may vary as a function of sex, race and background cardiovascular risk," they said.
Recommendations on alcohol consumption should be based, as any medical advice, on a careful evaluation of an individual's risks and benefits, in the context of adequate treatment and control of established cardiovascular risk factors, they argued.