Moderate Drinking Is Linked with Heart Disease: What Women Need to Know

Parsley Health
Medically Reviewed
April 15, 2024

Drinking is bad for your health—unless it’s a glass or two of red wine, and then it’s good for your heart.


While this decades-old myth has become accepted as fact, recent studies just don’t support it. In 2006 and 2009 , studies showed that the heart health protection from alcohol may have been overestimated, while mortality numbers from heavier drinking may have been under-estimated.

Wine isn’t as healthy as we thought

Last year, yet another study confirmed that alcohol—including wine—is not as healthy as we thought. The key points of that study say: “Low-volume alcohol drinking was not associated with protection against death from all causes.”

This seems to align with what we already know about alcohol, which is that it is associated with worse health outcomes overall. The World Health Organization established alcohol’s links to cancer in 1988.

How drinking affects women’s heart health

This new research about the health effects of alcohol are also gendered. According to a large study of 18-65 year olds from the American College of Cardiology, drinking may be just as important as smoking in preventing heart disease—especially for women.

"When it comes to binge drinking, both men and women with excess alcohol consumption had a higher risk of heart disease," said Jamal Rana, MD, PhD, FACC, the study's lead author. "For women, we find consistently higher risk even without binge drinking...It was definitely surprising."

What does this mean for me?

If even one drink per day can increase your chance of developing conditions like high blood pressure , which can lead to stroke, heart failure, and other problems, you may be asking yourself, “Is drinking going to cause me health problems down the road?”

While it’s possible to find healthier wines and alcohols , taking a break from drinking may be a good idea, especially for women.

"It’s fine to enjoy a glass of wine every now and then," Dr. Leslie Cho, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic, told the New York Times . But it doesn’t help your heart, she said. “It’s just time to let go of that belief.”

I drink. What can I do to reduce my risk of heart disease?

  • Reduce your alcohol intake : Whether you're taking steps on your own by opting for mocktails and changing how you socialize, or getting more support from friends, a therapist, or a group, you have a lot of options to reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Don't forget preventative care : Lifestyle is one of the best ways to promote your best health for the long-term. The other is preventative care, with regular visits to your doctor and screenings for conditions, like cancer or heart disease, that you may be at higher risk of.
  • Get a personalized program: At Parsley Health, our comprehensive treatment programs are tailored to your lifestyle and goals, including health optimization. Your medical team can help you learn your long-term health risks, support your heart health , overhaul your nutrition (including your relationship to alcohol), and improve your mental wellbeing with better rest, stress mangement , and more. With a world-class clinician, expert health coach, and RN care manager, you have everything you need to feel your best now—and in the future.

Ready to take control of your heart health? Schedule a free call  to learn more about Parsley’s root-cause approach, using insurance  with Parsley, and how we can personalize your health journey.

Parsley Health

Parsley Health is the doctor that helps you live healthier, longer, by treating the root cause of symptoms and conditions. Our medical teams—staffed by leading clinicians and health coaches—spend more time with you, order the right tests, and prescribe food, sleep and movement alongside medications so you can get better—and feel better.

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