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Researchers at the University of Gothenburg have found that three in twenty people (15%) carry the gene known as CETP TaqlB which helps manage the levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in the body and in turn removes blood fats from the body which can later lead to heart disease.
The study compared the alcohol and drinking habits of 618 Swedish heart patients and 3,000 healthy participants, testing them for the CETP gene along with monitoring how many units of alcohol they consumed. The results have challenged other claims that moderate alcohol consumption has widespread health benefits across the whole population.
Alcohol is thought to boost cholesterol levels across everyone consuming the drink, but it is only in individuals who have the CETP gene whose cholesterol levels often aren’t affected by drink.
Professor Thelle, who headed up the study, stated: “Our study represents a step in the right direction, but a lot more research is needed. Assuming we are able to describe these mechanisms [of the effects of alcohol on levels of LDL cholesterol] it may be a simple matter one day to perform genetic testing and determine whether someone belongs to the lucky 15 per cent. That would be useful to know when offering advice on healthy alcohol consumption, but the most important thing is to identify new means of using the body’s own resources to prevent coronary heart disease.”
Although it may seem that moderate drinking may only have a protective effect against LDL cholesterol for 15 per cent of the population, drinking specific alcoholic beverages like red wine are also said to contain antioxidants and have health benefits for those not suffering from higher cholesterol levels. Red wine, for example, contains a huge content of flavonoids which can help regulate blood sugar levels and help prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.