Health benefits of alcohol depends on your genes

Numerous studies have shown that red wine is good for your heart, but this does mean it needs to be in moderation, of course. A new study, out of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, has found that the protective health benefits of alcohol are only present if you have a certain genotype, or genetic makeup. It has also shown that only about 15% of the population are lucky enough to have this particular genotype.

“Moderate drinking alone does not have a strong protective effect,” said Professor Lauren Lissner, a co-author of the study. “Nor does this particular genotype. But the combination of the two appears to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease in the long run.”

The researchers were able to confirm to their conclusion after analysing the genomes and comparing the drinking habits of two randomly-sampled groups; which contained 618 people with coronary heart disease and a control group of 2 921 people.

Both groups were asked to answer questionnaires detailing what kinds of alcohol they drank, how often they drank, as well as other lifestyle and socioeconomic factors. These factors included smoking habits, exercise routine and marital status. The researchers analysed the blood of both groups to search for the CETP gene, which is known to regulate the process of transporting cholesterol from the peripheral arteries to the liver, which in turn, helps reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.

It was found that only those with a certain CETP gene variation had the strongest link between a lower risk of coronary heart disease and moderate amounts of alcohol intake. “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%,” Thelle said in the statement. “That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption.”