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Binge drinking: red wine and alcohol have different effects on platelets

  • Moderate alcohol consumption is believed to reduce mortality from cardiovascular disease.
  • Binge drinking, on the other hand, is known to increase mortality from all causes.
  • Recent findings indicate the differences in consequences may be due, in part, to the different effects that alcohol can have on platelet adhesion and aggregation.

Numerous studies have shown a link between moderate alcohol consumption, versus abstinence or heavy consumption, and decreased mortality from cardiovascular disease. Conversely, the rapid consumption of large amounts of alcohol within a short period of time also known as binge drinking is associated with increased mortality from all causes, including cardiovascular ones. Alcohol's effects on platelet adhesion and aggregation may provide part of the answer to this riddle, as shown by findings published in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"In large studies containing thousands of healthy people, it was observed that people who drank alcohol on a regular basis appeared to have less cardiovascular disease," said Dylan W. de Lange, a researcher at the Thrombosis and Haemostasis Laboratory of the University Medical Center in Utrecht, the Netherlands and corresponding author for the study. "In these large studies, overall mortality was lowest among people who drank two to five glasses daily, compared to people who abstained from alcohol or drank excessively.

This became known as the 'U-shaped curve.' The French adopted this concept, trying to prove that drinking red wine was beneficial for one's health. This became known as the 'French Paradox,' that consumers of red wine had a low mortality from cardiovascular diseases despite smoking and consuming dietary fat."

De Lange said that the "French Paradox" does not actually exist, because consumption of dietary fat takes years before it leads to a heart attack, a realization that has
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14-Oct-2004


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