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Evidence-based Drinking

The new DoH suggested limits on healthy drinking can pose a challenge. Bandolier tries hard, but just can't get its alcohol consumption up to them - still, practice makes perfect!

It is, however, possible to try and work out the NNT for beneficial effects of alcohol consumption. A Danish study in the BMJ [1] examined the relationships between alcohol consumption and high and low density lipoprotein at the start of observations, with ischaemic heart disease incidence over the following six years as the outcome measure. The study population was 2,826 men aged 53-74 years.

There are many interesting results, especially the high protective effect of alcohol in men with high LDL cholesterol drinking more than 22 drinks a week.

The most important result was the overall conclusion that drinking alcohol prevents ischaemic heart disease. In these men, whatever number of alcoholic drinks they consumed each week, or the serum levels of lipoprotein cholesterol, the NNT to prevent one ischaemic heart disease event over six years was 24 (95%CI 13 - 169).


  1. HO Hein, P Suadicani, F Gyntelberg. Alcohol consumption, serum low density lipoprotein cholesterol concentration, and risk of ischaemic heart disease: six year follow up in the Copenhagen male study. British Medical Journal 1996 312:736-41.

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