Elevated levels of high-density lipoproteins, or "good cholesterol," have been shown to predict a low risk of coronary artery disease and heart attacks. Increased activity levels of paraoxonase (PON), an enzyme associated with HDL, also has been shown to protect against heart disease. Apolipoprotein A-1 is a protein component of HDL that supports its heart benefits.
A new study, published in the September issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, shows that increases in these factors among post-menopausal women following moderate alcohol consumption are similar to the increases that have been shown in men and that have been associated with a decreased risk for heart disease.
"Increased serum HDL-cholesterol and PON activity may be a mechanism of action not only in healthy middle-aged men, but also in post-menopausal women, underlying the reduced heart disease risk in moderate drinkers," says Henk F.J. Hendriks, Ph.D., of TNO Nutrition and Food Research in the Netherlands.
In fact, the researchers found no difference in the magnitude of increased activity and concentration of the measured factors between men and women, even though they gave the women less to drink to compensate for lower body weight and slower metabolism of alcohol.
Ten men aged 45-64 and nine post-menopausal women aged 49-62 were enrolled in the study. All of the subjects participated in a beer-drinking and non-alcohol-drinking phase, each lasting three weeks. Men had four glasses of beer or near-beer with their dinner, served at TNO, while women drank three glasses.
Ten days into the drinking phase, HDL-cholesterol levels in subjects' blood samples rose by an average of nearly 7 percent and were up almost 12 pe
Contact: Kai Waterreus
Center for the Advancement of Health