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To your health: Light to moderate drinking may lower heart disease risk, researchers find

NEW YORK — The Spaniards drink Rioja wine with a hearty “Salud!,” while the Irish knock back Jameson whiskey and Guinness beer with “Slainte.” Nobody can say who coined the two calls to imbibe, both of which mean “health,” but according to two recent studies, it looks as though they were on to something.

The studies, led by University of Calgary researchers Paul Ronksley and Susan Brien and published in the journal BMJ, found that people who drink moderately are 14% to 25% less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t drink at all.

One study found that light to moderate drinking was associated with lower risks of such heart diseases as coronary heart disease and stroke, while another study found that moderate drinking increased levels of “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering levels of fibrinogen, though it didn’t change levels of triglycerides.

Heavy drinking, of course, still is unhealthy, and the authors said a balance needed to be found in public messaging that emphasized the potential harm caused by consuming large amounts of alcohol. It appears, however, that a drink after work or on the weekends might be all right for what ails you.

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