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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
Litre of beer 'is good for you'
Regular beer drinking in moderation is a good thing
Researchers have shown that all types of alcohol can help to reduce the risk of heart disease - if you drink it little and often.

The best strategy is to drink up to a litre of beer a day.

Many studies have shown a link between alcohol consumption and reduced levels of coronary heart disease.

The myth about special qualities of wine is, in my view, wrong

Dr Martin Bobak, University College, London

However, it is unclear whether the protective effect is confined to specific drinks such as red wine, or relates to the ethanol in all alcoholic drinks.

Dr Martin Bobak and colleagues from the International Centre for Health and Society, University College, London, examined whether beer could protect against heart disease by going to the Czech Republic - a country where beer is almost universally the drink of choice.

They compared men who had suffered heart attacks with healthy men of the same age.

They found that the best way to protect against heart disease was to drink beer daily, or almost daily, but to limit consumption to between half a litre and one litre a day.

Health benefits are not confined to red wine

Men who drank twice a day or more were less likely to be protected from heart disease.

Dr Bobak told BBC News Online: "The results suggest that the protective effect is due to alcohol itself; the myth about special qualities of wine is, in my view, wrong."

The fact that red wine had been promoted as particularly good for the heart could be due to other factors, he said. For instance, wine drinkers tended to be higher social status, smoke less and have better diets.

Dr Bobak added his research also showed that binge drinking could have no positive impact on health.

He said: "If we are right, binge drinking would not confer any benefit - first, because it is irregular and second because it is large amounts."

The research is published in the British Medical Journal.

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See also:

18 Jun 99 | Health
Alcohol's innocent victims
25 Jun 99 | Health
Alcohol benefits debunked
28 Jul 99 | Health
Alcohol labelled in units
12 May 00 | Health
Britain's big booze binge
27 Apr 00 | Health
Beer 'may be good for you'
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