New research reveals more than one alcoholic drink a day significantly raises a woman’s risk for heart disease

Women who drink more than one alcoholic beverage per day are at a significantly higher risk of developing coronary heart disease compared to those who drink less, according to research funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

Researchers analyzed data from more than 430,000 adults, ages 18 to 65. They found that women who reported drinking eight or more alcoholic beverages per week faced a 33 to 51% increased risk of coronary heart disease. Additionally, those who engaged in binge drinking—consuming three alcoholic beverages per day—were 68% more likely to develop coronary heart disease than those who drank in moderation.

“There has long been this idea that alcohol is good for the heart — but we are seeing growing evidence challenging that notion,” said lead author Dr. Jamal S. Rana.

Researchers say that the link between alcohol and heart disease is even more concerning because of an increase in women drinking. According to NIH, women, compared to men, have had larger increases in alcohol-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths over the past 20 years.

“Women also process alcohol differently than men due to [biological] and physiologic differences, and this may contribute to the increased heart disease risk we found,” said senior author Dr. Stacy Sterling. 

Around 13% of adult women admit to binge drinking, with a quarter of them doing so at least weekly. Additionally, 25% of these women consume a minimum of six drinks during a single binge drinking episode, as reported by the CDC.

Heart disease stands as the leading cause of death among American women, according to the CDC. Symptoms can vary, with many people experiencing no signs until they suffer a heart attack or encounter other complications.

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