As we all know, research usually suggested, for instance, that a daily glass of red wine was good for your health. Unfortunately, it turns out that the benefits might only apply to people who have the right genes. Swedish scientists have challenged claims that moderate alcohol consumption of 7 drinks a week for women and 14 for men has widespread health benefits.
Researchers at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg say that on one hand, people can protect themselves from coronary heart disease, which is shrinking of vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart, through moderate alcohol consumption. But on the other hand this policy only works for 15 percent of the population, which has a particular genotype, that is, the genetic make-up of cells. The gene produces the protein CETP which affects the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol which helps to remove blood fats from the body that lead to heart disease, with alcohol found to boost this form of cholesterol.
The study compared the drinking habits of 618 Swedish heart patients and 3,000 healthy controls, all of which were tested for the particular CETP genotype. Co-author Professor Lauren Lissner said: “Moderate drinking alone does not have a strong protective effect. Nor does this particular genotype. But the combination of the two appears to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”
The researchers came to their conclusion after analyzing the genomes and comparing the drinking habits of two randomly-sampled groups: 618 people with coronary heart disease, and a control group of 2,921 people. Both groups answered questionnaires detailing what kinds of alcohol they liked to drink, how often they drank and other lifestyle and socioeconomic factors like smoking habits, exercise habits, marital status and leisure activity. Then the researchers analyzed the blood of both groups to search for the CETP gene. The CETP gene is known to regulate the process of transporting cholesterol from the peripheral arteries to the liver, which helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.
“Assuming that we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15 [percent],” study co-author Professor Dag Thelle of the University of Gothenburg said in the statement. “That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption.”