LONDON (Reuters) - Moderate drinking reduces the risk of heart disease but the beneficial effects of alcohol seem to work differently in men and women, Danish researchers said on Friday.
They found that for men drinking daily seems to have the biggest positive effect on health while in women the amount of alcohol consumed may have more of an impact.
"The risk of heart disease was lowest among men who drank every day," said Janne Tolstrup of the National Institute for Public Health in Copenhagen.
But a daily tipple did not cut the odds of heart disease in women, according to the findings reported in the British Medical Journal.
Tolstrup and her colleagues said the beneficial effects of moderate drinking in cutting heart disease risk are well documented but they warned that heavy alcohol consumption is linked to liver diseases, cancer and road accidents.
Most of the research into alcohol and heart disease has been done on men. Little is known about the impact on women.
The researchers studied the effects of alcohol on more than 50,000 men and women over more than five years. Men in the study who drank one day a week had a 7 percent reduced risk of heart disease compared to non-drinkers, but daily moderate drinkers were 41 percent less likely to suffer from heart disease.
Women consumed an average of 5.5 alcoholic drinks a week, about half of what the men drank. But in women the percentages of reduced risk were similar, regardless of whether they drank one day or seven days a week.
"This study does not change the fact that alcohol should be enjoyed in moderation only, both by men and women," said Judy O'Sullivan, of the British Heart Foundation in a statement.