Just when you thought those one or two glasses of wine were of benefit to your health, a new study is now saying that is not necessarily the case.
According to researchers from Canada and Australia the benefits of alcohol for the heart are exaggerated.
Lead author Kaye M. Fillmore, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing and her team analyzed 54 previous studies on alcohol use and mortality, which included deaths from coronary heart disease.
Of the studies 47 included in the "abstainer" category individuals who were not long-term abstainers but had only recently stopped drinking or cut down to once per month or less, says Fillmore.
The studies were published in the 1980s and 1990s, although they spanned 1950 to 2004 and the researchers found a systematic error in the design of previous studies that may have exaggerated alcohol as a health boon.
The studies in the main divided groups into "drinkers" and "abstainers" and among the abstainers were people who had reduced or quit drinking for medical reasons.
The researchers say the abstainers had higher death rates than drinkers.
Initially it appeared the abstainers were at higher risk for heart disease because they refrained from drinking alcohol, and so did not get its protective benefit, when in fact Fillmore says those in the abstainer category were often already frail and predisposed to death.
British heart specialist Gerry Shaper first suggested this research discrepancy in a 1988 study, and many researchers since have taken his observation seriously, trying to allow for the problem in their work.
But Fillmore's study suggests these allowances may still be inadequate.
Fillmore and her team looked at seven studies without this error and found that both groups were at equal risk of dying.
When Fillmore reconstructed the error back into the data for the abstainer group, she found the abstainers were at a higher risk of dying than moderate drinkers.