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Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce your chances of a heart attack

g levels of fibrinogen. This decrease was fully reversible and non gender specific. The cell study found that alcohol also diminished fibrinogen production by 20 percent. In other words, moderate drinking appeared to reduce levels of fibrinogen both where it is circulated as well as where it is produced.

"We're all interested in fibrinogen for health," said Russell F. Doolittle, professor of biochemistry at the University of California at San Diego, "but like anything else, too much of a good thing is bad." Doolittle explained that "fibrinogen's purpose is to change into a fibrin clot. That's a good thing when it keeps your blood from spilling all over the floor. It's a bad thing when it occurs internally, if you have a clot that gets loose in the circulation and blocks blood flow."

People are more likely to die from heart disease than cancer, stroke, lung diseases or accidents. Each year, more than 500,000 Americans die from heart attacks caused by CHD. A study published in the January issue of Lancet estimated that one out of every two men and one of every three women age 40 or younger have a lifetime risk of developing CHD. Although CHD has a strong connection to lifestyle choices - such as smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure - there are some developments, such as increasing levels of fibrinogen, that occur naturally as one ages.

"As we get older there is a gradual accumulation of fibrinogen in the blood," said Fuller. "This happens in the fourth, fifth and sixth decades of life. It's not a huge amount, but we don't need to see a huge increase for it to become a risk factor." Fuller's study suggests that older populations can enjoy a glass or wine or beer per day while simultaneously diminishing fibrinogen levels in their systems.

"We're not advocating that people drink a lot," Fuller pointed out. "We are not even suggesting that people begin drinking moderate amounts of alcohol.
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Contact: Gerald M. Fuller, Ph.D.
gmfuller@cellbio.bhs.uab.edu
205-934-7596
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research
13-Dec-1999


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