You may want to think again before pouring the next alcoholic drink, especially if you’re a man.
A new British study has shown that men who drink more than a pint of beer a day over several years may increase their chances of heart disease by prematurely ageing their arteries.
Beer is not the only culprit, moreover. Regular heavy consumption of wine, spirits, liqueurs and even cider can produce the same harmful effects.
The finding comes from a University College London study, which suggests that drinking can affect the elasticity of arterial walls, interfering with blood flow.
While alcohol consumption did not appear to have the same effect on women, the researchers pointed out that 73 percent of the 3,869 participants in the study were men.
The link between alcohol and reduced arterial elasticity was found when researchers examined the drinking habits of participants between the ages of 30 and 60 over a 25-year period.
The volunteers reported the number of glasses of wine, pints of beer or cider, and measures of spirits or liqueurs consumed in the week preceding each assessment of their arteries.
The scientists then compared the participants’ alcohol consumption with measurements of the main arteries in their necks and thighs.
According to Dr Darragh O’Neill, an epidemiologist and lead author of the study: “Heavier alcohol intake may activate certain enzymes that would lead to collagen accumulation, which could in turn exacerbate the rate of arterial stiffening.
“Based on these findings, the research team wants to look at multiple groups of people – since this study was limited to a single group that was mostly male – and identify the relationship that drinking patterns over time have with other indicators of cardiovascular disease.”
The findings of the study, which were published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, build on previous studies that have linked heavy alcohol intake with high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, certain types of cancer, accidents and suicide.