No amount of alcohol is good for the heart, says World Heart Federation

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In a bold move, the World Heart Federation (WHF) released a guide on Thursday saying that no amount of alcohol is good for the heart.

“At the World Heart Federation, we decided that it was imperative to speak out about alcohol and the harm to health, as well as social and economic harm, as there is an impression in the general population, and even among healthcare professionals, that it is something good for the heart,” said Beatriz Champagne, chair of the advocacy committee that produced the report.

“It is not, and the evidence is increasingly showing that there is no level of alcohol consumption that is safe for health,” adds Champagne, who is also executive director of the Inter-American Heart Foundation (IAHF). an organization dedicated to the prevention of heart disease and stroke in the Americas.

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Critics were quick to attack the federation’s stance, saying the document was ignoring studies that show small benefits in some heart conditions when a moderate amount of alcohol is consumed.

One such study of alcohol risks, published in the Lancet in 2018, was used extensively in the WHF paper, “but it seriously distorts and selectively reports its findings,” said David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

Given that the WHF report references this document, it is really strange that their conclusion is that “there is no amount of alcohol that is good for the heart,” said Emmanuela Gakidou, a professor at the University’s Institute of Health Metrics and Assessment. of Washington that analyzes the risks of alcohol based on the Global Burden of Disease Study, which gathers worldwide data on premature death and disability from more than 300 diseases.

“There are some scientific studies that support their position, but based on my work on the Global Burden of Disease Study, which brings together all the evidence available to date, the claim made by the WHF is not supported by the scientific evidence currently available,” he explains. Gakidou.

In response to these criticisms, Champagne wrote the following position to the CNN:

“While we support our core messages, it’s helpful to know that writing parts of the guide can give rise to misunderstandings. To address this, we have updated the document (specifically page 8) to more clearly articulate our conclusions and specifically cite the studies by which they were reached,” Champagne wrote via email.

“In short, our position is that studies showing a significant cardioprotective effect of alcohol consumption in general have been observational, inconsistent, funded by the alcohol industry, and/or not subject to randomized control — a type of scientific study. Furthermore, any potential cardioprotective effect is negated by the risks and harms already well documented, resulting in our judgment that no amount of consumption [de álcool] can be considered good for heart health.”

The American Heart Association (AHA), which is a member of the federation, said “moderation is key” when it comes to alcohol, which is defined as no more than one drink a day for a woman. and two for the man.

Dr. Mariell Jessup, AHA’s Chief of Science and Physician, wrote to CNN in an email that the AHA will “carefully review” the WHF guide. She said the AHA recently reviewed evidence on alcohol and cardiovascular risk for its 2021 Scientific Statement of Dietary Guidance and “we conclude that anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol, don’t start; and if someone drinks alcohol, limit consumption.”

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The World Heart Federation is a health advocacy organization based in Geneva, Switzerland, representing hundreds of heart associations worldwide. She released the new policy guide “The Impact of Alcohol Consumption on Cardiovascular Health: Myths and Measures” to counter reports that a little alcohol is good or even good for heart health.

According to the report, drinking alcohol increases the risk of several cardiovascular problems, including coronary artery disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, stroke and aortic aneurysm. Any amount of alcohol, not just a large amount, can lead to a loss of healthy life, he says.

“In the last decades, the prevalence of cardiovascular diseases has almost doubled, and alcohol has been a protagonist in the incidence of most of them”, reports the document.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, disproportionately affecting people of low socioeconomic status. In 2019, nearly 2.4 million deaths — not just heart-related — can be attributed to alcohol, according to the report. Alcohol also negatively affects mental health.

The World Health Organization (WHO) called for a relative 10% reduction in per capita alcohol use between 2013 and 2030, but the report said a lack of investment in proven alcohol reduction strategies, in addition to industry misinformation, has held back. progress towards that goal.

“The portrayal of alcohol as necessary for a lively social life has diverted attention from the problems of alcohol use, as have the frequent and widely publicized claims that moderate consumption, such as a glass of red wine a day, can offer protection against disease. cardiovascular disease,” said Monika Arora, a member of the WHF advocacy committee and co-author of the policy guide, in a press release. “These claims are, at best, disinformation and, at worst, an attempt by the alcohol industry to mislead the public about the danger of their product.”

This content was originally created in English.

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Reference: CNN Brasil

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