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Moderate drinking beneficial only to few

A glass of wine a day can protect against heart disease, but only if you carry a specific gene present in just 15% of the population.

According to research carried out by scientists at the University of Gothenburg, for people with the gene CETP TaqIB, carried by just three in 20 people, drinking a glass of wine a day could help prevent heart disease.

The gene produces the protein CETP which affects the ‘good’ HDL cholesterol which helps to remove blood fats from the body that lead to heart disease, with alcohol found to boost this form of cholesterol.

The study compared the drinking habits of 618 Swedish heart patients and 3,000 healthy controls, all of which were tested for the particular CETP genotype.

Co-author Professor Lauren Lissner said: “Moderate drinking alone does not have a strong protective effect. Nor does this particular genotype. But the combination of the two appears to significantly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.”

The benefits of moderate drinking have been hotly debated with many studies claiming that consuming no more than seven drinks a week for women and fourteen for men can result in positive health benefits.

However this most recent study challenges those claims, suggesting that only 15% of the population could benefit from such advice.

Professor Dag Thelle added: “Assuming we are able to describe these mechanisms, it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15%. That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption. But the most important thing is to identify new means of using the body’s resources to prevent coronary heart disease.”

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