23 February 2023 News

Alcohol has no heart benefit

The false idea that alcohol is a heart tonic is still alive and kicking among policymakers, being among myths the invoked to derail Ireland’s ongoing bid to inform citizens of alcohol’s risks on product labels.

No randomised control trial has ever shown alcohol conferring any benefit to the heart and the belief that it does was firmly refuted last year by the World Heart Federation. Alcohol can damage the heart muscle and it increases blood pressure contributing to heart disease and stroke.




The heart-healing power of alcohol has long been peddled by alcohol interests to give its product a “health halo”. Reinforcing it is simple: promote flawed studies which give a misleading impression. The media likes to break the phoney good news and people like to read it.  

The most common flaw is that studies fail to recognise that non-drinkers include more than the average proportion of people who are unwell or who previously had alcohol use problems. Non-drinkers are less healthy as a group, but not because they do not drink alcohol

Policy makers should not base their choices based on dubious science. Alcohol is not a medication or preventative measure for any illness, heart disease included. Its risks of alcohol far outweigh any narrow benefits at any level, as the WHO reaffirmed this month.