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Regular drinks may help women recover from heart attacks

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Women who regularly drink alcohol are more likely to live longer after suffering a heart attack than women who abstain, according to a new study.

More than 1, 200 women hospitalized for heart attack were interviewed about how many alcoholic drinks they usually consumed, as well as other health and lifestyle issues, according to Reuters.

Researchers found that a decade or more later, 44 out of every 100 women who didn't drink had died, while 25 out of every 100 light drinkers and 18 out of every 100 heavy drinkers (defined as those who consumed three or more drinks each week) had died. In other words, women who drank had a 35-per-cent lower chance of dying during the follow up period.

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The study was published in The American Journal of Cardiology.

It didn't matter if the women drank wine, beer or spirits.

"One thing that was interesting was that we didn't see differences among different beverage types," Joshua Rosenbloom, a student at Harvard Medical School who led the study, told Reuters. "The most recent evidence suggests that it's the alcohol itself that's beneficial."

But don't make the mistake of thinking longevity is a matter of slugging back barrels of booze.

"One drink a day is a really good target, assuming that a person can be disciplined about that," said James O'Keefe, a cardiologist who was not involved in the study.

Still, it is good news for people who may have developed heart disease but would still like a glass of wine with dinner once in a while, since there's no reason to assume they need to stop drinking, Dr. O'Keefe added.

"The problem is that alcohol is a slippery slope, and while we know that a little bit is good for us, a lot of it is really bad."

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Previous studies have linked even moderate drinking to several types of cancer, including one study that found a woman's risk of developing breast cancer rises by 6 per cent for every drink she consumes a day.

Does such research how many drinks you consume - be it more or less?

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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