Live Longer: Drinking & Heart Disease

Live Longer: Drinking & Heart Disease

This summer, the Telluride Ski Resort and The Peaks Resort & Spa are hosting a series of week-long wellness intensives under the banner of Live Longer Retreat. The Big Idea is to support your (recurring) New Year’s resolution to get really healthy and therefore live longer – and well. Half the year is in the rear view mirror. What progress have you made?

The intensive includes personal consultations, talks and demonstrations related to nutrition, hiking, Pilates, spinning, yoga and more.

Dates this summer are July 15 – July 21; August 19 – August 25; and September 27 – September 30.

The program is led by Dr. Alan Safdi, a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine. Dr. Safdi also has a gift for delivering evidence-based medical findings for healthier living in easily digestible sound bytes.

In the run-up to the retreats, Dr. Safdi is posting regular updates on Telluride Inside… and Out based on the latest, closely vetted research about subjects in the field of health, wellness and longevity. 

This week, he talks about the impact of drinking on your heart. 

Feel free to sign up now to participate in a Live Longer Retreat   or call 1-877-448-5416 for further information.


The key message from the research is that if you already drink alcohol, drinking less may help you live longer and lower your risk of several cardiovascular conditions; cancer too.

Cancers linked to drinking include cancers of the upper airway and digestive tract (e.g., mouth, pharynx, larynx, and esophagus), as well as the liver.

Alcohol consumption has also been linked to cancers of the large bowel (i.e., colon and rectum) in both men and women and to breast cancer in women, where consumption can raise body levels of estrogen, a hormone important in the growth and development of breast tissue.

In the body, alcohol is converted into a toxic chemical called acetaldehyde, shown to be capable of damaging DNA and rendering the system incapable of repairing that damage.

Now on to alcohol and cardiovascular disease.

Bottom line: just one extra drink can take years off your life.

Do I have your attention?

Do you think drinking in moderation is good for you?

Think again.

Do you like a glass of wine in the evening to help you relax?

Forget about it.

A new study reminds us that if you drink, you are likelier to die, with each extra drink shaving months — possibly even years — off your life.

If you enjoy a glass of something in the evening to unwind, these new findings might make you look at that extra glass of wine in a whole different light.

Who came to this…ahem…dispiriting conclusion, I hear wine lovers ask, and how legit are the findings?

Unfortunately (for us), the study was carried out by perfectly competent British-based researchers led by Angela Wood, a lecturer in biostatistics in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the prestigious University of Cambridge.

As for the study itself, it investigated the drinking patterns of almost 600,000 people in 19 different countries all over the world. So the conclusion does seem to hold water.

Or liquor, if you will.

And although the authors don’t actually point the finger at the United States specifically, the findings do seem to suggest that the US alcohol guidelines are too lenient and should be lowered.

This fun-loving study was just published in The Lancet, where you can read it in full— and weep.

How alcohol shortens life expectancy:

Professor Wood and colleagues examined 83 prospective studies, which included information about people who don’t drink vs that of “current drinkers.”

The researchers examined the alcohol intake of 599,912 current drinkers. None of the subjects included in the study had any history of cardiovascular disease at baseline, and the scientists adjusted for age, sex, a history of diabetes, and smoking status.

All in all, the study counted 40,310 deaths and 39,018 cases of cardiovascular diseases during the period analyzed.

In short, the new research revealed that there is no such thing as beneficial moderate drinking. The “safe” drinking limit was as low as seven “standard” drinks per week, with anything above that increasing the risk of premature death.

More specifically, the safe amount of alcohol was found to be 100 grams of pure alcohol or the equivalent of just over seven standard drinks in the US, as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

A US standard drink is equivalent to a small can of regular beer or a 5-ounce glass of red wine, with no more than 12% alcohol volume.

Anything above that threshold translated into a shorter life expectancy. People who had more than seven and up to 14 standard drinks per week, for example, were likely to have their life expectancy shortened by around six months.

Those who consumed over 14 drinks and up to 25 per week were likely to have 1–2 years shaved their lifespan; a consumption of over 25 standard drinks per week correlated with 4–5 fewer years.

The life expectancy was calculated for a person who is 40 years old and would continue to drink at that rate for the rest of their life.

The final nail in the “moderate drinking is good for you” coffin came from the links that the scientists found between alcohol intake and cardiovascular illness.

A higher risk of stroke, heart failure, and fatal hypertensive disease were only some of the adverse cardiovascular events associated with higher alcohol consumption.

The authors go on to comment about the significance of the findings, suggesting that countries whose upper alcohol limits are higher than those of the United Kingdom should take note and lower them.

“This is a serious wakeup call for many countries,” says Professor Jeremy Pearson, an associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation (BHF), a British nonprofit organization that partially funded the research.

Victoria Taylor, a senior dietitian at the BHF, says, “This powerful study may make sobering reading for countries that have set their recommendations at higher levels than the UK.”

The US is definitely one such country. The official guidelines from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion recommend that men do not drink more than 196 grams of pure alcohol per week, and that women do not exceed 98 grams per week.

That amounts to no more than 14 standard drinks per week for men, and no more than seven for women, but the guidelines are still well above the 100-gram threshold proposed by the study.

We should always remember that alcohol guidelines should act as a limit, not a target, and try to drink well below this threshold.

More about Dr. Alan Safdi:

Dr. Alan Safdi is a board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, Safdi has been featured on the national program “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. He has been an investigator in over 581 studies and is President of both the Consultants For Clinical Research and the Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute.

Dr. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for about 35+ years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He lectures internationally on the subjects of wellness, nutrition, and gastroenterology.

More about the other lectures:

A series of lectures given by Dr. Alan Safdi and Dr. William Renner in Telluride is planned for the Spring. The talks on health, wellness, and longevity research target health care providers as well as the general public.

A new workshops targets the veterinary world with lectures and hands-on training for veterinarians in the field of endoscopic therapy in animals. Multiple stations with direct hands-on learning with in-depth lectures with regards to GI disease that can be treated or prevented with endoscopic therapy.

For more information, visit the following;; and

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