Get your guide!

Receive our FREE 14-day guide, direct to your inbox, on how genetics impact every aspect of fitness and nutrition.

If you’ve ever heard that a glass of red wine per day is good for your heart, this is truer for some people than others. Plenty of research has shown that moderate amounts of alcohol consumption can protect against risks of heart disease. For example, a study published in 1997 found that alcohol intake was associated with a protective effect against coronary heart disease in a sample of almost 130,000 people – this effect was present for both beer and wine. A second study, again from 1997, found that in both men and women, rates of cardiovascular disease were 30-40% lower in those consuming at least one drink per day compared to abstainers.

If you’ve ever heard that a glass of red wine per day is good for your heart, this is truer for some people than others. Plenty of research has shown that moderate amounts of alcohol consumption can protect against risks of heart disease. For example, a study published in 1997  found that alcohol intake was associated with a protective effect against coronary heart disease in a sample of almost 130,000 people – this effect was present for both beer and wine. A second study, again from 1997, found that in both men and women, rates of cardiovascular disease were 30-40% lower in those consuming at least one drink per day compared to abstainers.

 

The positive effects of alcohol on your heart might be caused by alcohol affecting people’s cholesterol - specifically, alcohol might increase HDL cholesterol (often called “good” cholesterol). If alcohol is present in the blood for a long period of time, it has longer to interact with the cholesterol, and so may have a greater protective effect. The gene that interests us here is called ADH1C, which creates an enzyme that enables us to metabolise alcohol. Differences in this gene can split individuals into two camps; those with the AA genotype, called fast metabolisers of alcohol, and those with a G allele (so AG and GG genotypes), called slow metabolisers of alcohol. Based on this, we would expect that moderate amounts of alcohol consumption would have a greater positive effect on a person’s cardiovascular risk if they were a slow metaboliser of alcohol – i.e. if they have a G allele of ADH1C.  And this is more or less what the studies find. As an example, a study published in 2008 examined 3700 people over an eight-year period. The participants were asked how much alcohol they consumed on a regular basis, and also had blood tests to collect various measures of cardiovascular health, including HDL cholesterol. What they found was that, in those people classed as slow metabolisers, and who reported moderate alcohol consumption, there was a 64% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk. Similar results were reported in research looking at the Framingham Offspring Study, a large study based in the US with just over 5,000 subjects, which showed, again, a lower cardiovascular disease risk with moderate alcohol consumption in slow metabolisers compared to fast metabolisers. Similarly, a 2005 study reported a 78% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk in slow metabolisers consuming moderate amounts of alcohol compared to those who were fast metabolisers.

 

All of this goes to show that for slow metabolisers of alcohol, those with the G allele of ADH1C, appear to find that moderate alcohol consumption has a greater protective effect against heart disease than for fast metabolisers (AA genotypes). This doesn’t mean that alcohol is bad for fast metabolisers, just perhaps not as good as it is for slow metabolisers. And with slow metabolisers, the key word when it comes to alcohol is moderate; this is not an excuse to drink excessive amounts!

 

ADH1C Genotype

Effect

AA

Fast metaboliser of alcohol – not associated with higher a lowering of cardiovascular disease risk in moderate drinkers; this effect is neutral, as opposed to negative.

AG/GG

Slow metaboliser of alcohol – associated with a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk with moderate amounts of alcohol.

 

Tags:

Gene in Focus Genetics Alcohol AD1HC

Share:




Other Articles

Posted 497 Days Ago in: Training, Genetics

Genetics or training - what is the secret to becoming a star athlete?

Amongst all the records, achievements and scandals at Rio 2016, a small piece of history was written. Leila, Liina and Lily Luik from Estonia became the first identical triplets to compete against each other in a single event – the marathon. If this wasn’t proof enough that athletic talent runs in the family, there were at least 36 sets of siblings competing in the Rio Olympics, showcasing family dominance at the Summer Games.

Read More

Posted 499 Days Ago in: Genetics

10 nutrition myths debunked

In the digital age there is a wealth of information available to us, allowing the discovery of new things about ourselves, our fitness and our nutrition. But sometimes, it’s hard to sift out the useable information from the fog of fad diets and unproven speculation. The same goes for what you hear through the grapevine. Your friends may have heard something from another friend, who heard it from someone else, and so on and so on…and before you know it you find yourself a situation where no one has any idea what the source material was. And that’s where the problem comes in. It’s not always possible to do the research of so-called ‘facts’ that you’ve taken-for-granted for years now, but as we’re in the business of optimising your nutrition and diet habits we’ve taken it upon ourselves to debunk the main myths floating around the industry.

Read More


Get your guide!

Receive our FREE 14-day guide, direct to your inbox, on how genetics impact every aspect of fitness and nutrition.