(HealthDay News) — Approximately one-third of the public believes alcohol is heart-healthy, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology.
Isaac R. Whitman, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues evaluated data from consecutive participants enrolled in the Health eHeart Study to assess public perception of alcohol’s heart effects, the sources of those perceptions, and how they may affect behavior.
The researchers found that 30% of the 5,582 participants viewed alcohol as heart-healthy, 39% viewed it as unhealthy, and 31% were unsure. The vast majority of those reporting alcohol as heart-healthy (80%) cited lay press as a source of their knowledge. Older age (odds ratio [OR], 1.11), higher education (OR, 1.37), higher income (OR, 1.07), U.S. residence (OR, 1.63), and coronary artery disease (OR, 1.51) were associated with perception of alcohol as heart-healthy, whereas ever smokers (OR, 0.76) and those with heart failure (OR, 0.5) were less likely to cite alcohol as heart-healthy. On average, those perceiving alcohol as heart-healthy consumed 47% more alcohol on a regular basis than those who viewed alcohol as unhealthy.
“Despite the equipoise regarding alcohol’s cardiovascular effects and absence of relevant rigorous controlled trials, the lay press frequently portrays alcohol as ‘heart healthy,'” the authors write.