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Make ours a large glass this weekend - scientists have discovered drinking a 'moderate' amount of alcohol daily can lower risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases by up to 20 per cent.
Researchers found that moderate alcohol intake - defined as no more than one alcoholic drink for women and two for men per day - has been associated with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who drink obsessively.
Interestingly, moderate drinkers also had lower risk of dying from major cardiovascular incident compared to those who abstain from alcohol entirely, with scientists believing that drinking modest levels of alcohol may protect the heart as it reduces stress-related brain signals.
Speaking about the research, the study's general leader, Dr Kenechukwu Mezue explained: "We found that stress-related activity in the brain was higher in non-drinkers when compared with people who drank moderately, while people who drank excessively (more than 14 drinks per week) had the highest level of stress-related brain activity.
"The thought is that moderate amounts of alcohol may have effects on the brain that can help you relax, reduce stress levels and, perhaps through these mechanisms, lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease."
But before we start reciting how a beer a day keeps the doctor away, Dr Mezue is keen to stress there are notably more healthy ways to reduce stress levels instead of automatically hitting the booze.
Alcohol consumption is linked to weight gain, impaired organ function and addiction, as well as a list of other ailments.
"Alcohol has several important side effects, including an increased risk of cancer, liver damage and dependence," Dr Mezue explains. "So other interventions with better side effect profiles that beneficially impact brain-heart pathways are needed."
Instead of encouraging people to drink more, researchers involved in the study have suggested healthier ways to alleviate stress levels, such as yoga or exercise.
The study defined 'major cardiovascular events' as heart attacks, strokes or 'related hospitalisations.'
Of those involved in the study, 752 underwent PET scans, which show areas in the brain that have increased activity.
The scans allowed researchers to measure activity in regions of the brain known to be associated with stress - the amygdala and the frontal cortex.
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