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Although many studies have linked moderate drinking with a lower risk of death from heart disease, just how alcohol could produce such a benefit has been unclear. Now, new research by investigators at the University of Ulm Medical Center in Germany suggests that alcohol has anti-inflammatory properties that could be at least partly responsible for this heartfelt benefit (Lancet. 2001;357:763-767).
Previous studies have suggested that moderate alcohol intake plays a role in lowering the risk of heart disease through a variety of mechanisms, including increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. The mounting evidence that atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease prompted the German researchers to investigate possible associations between alcohol intake and markers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein (CRP).
Stephenson J. Alcohol and Heart Health. JAMA. 2001;285(14):1831. doi:10.1001/jama.285.14.1831-JWM10003-4-1