People who drink no more than the current UK recommended levels of 14 units a week—which equates to seven pints of beer, 14 measures of spirits or 10 small glasses of wine—have a lower risk of developing heart disease than non-drinkers and heavy drinkers.
But drink more than that and your risk increases, say researchers from Cambridge University who analysed the health records of 1.93 adults who didn't have heart disease, and who were separated out according to their drinking habits.
Moderate drinking seems to protect against most of the common heart problems—but not all—say the researchers, but they stress that exercising and stopping smoking are better ways to reduce your risk.
Heavy drinking appears to raise the risk for heart failure, cardiac arrest and stroke—but, paradoxically, seems to offer some protection against heart attack and angina.
It doesn't mean that heavy drinkers won't get a heart attack, but they are less likely to suffer one compared to non-drinkers or light drinkers.
These nuances could explain why other reports about the benefits of drinking may have been contradictory, the researchers say.