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J-curve revisited: cardiovascular benefits of moderate alcohol use cannot be dismissed

There is universal agreement that the alcohol-related problems of violence, motor vehicle fatalities and injuries, family disruption and significant ill health are major challenges for the Australian community,1,2 as they are worldwide.3 Concerted action is required to address this.4 In response, Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) produced a thoroughly researched document in 2009,5 which updated its 2001 Australian alcohol guidelines.6

The NHMRC guidelines, important as a basis for alcohol policy in Australia, were unbalanced on an important issue: the potential health benefits of one to two standard drinks per day were reported incompletely. In a 118-page report, the potential health benefits of low doses of alcohol were dealt with in less than half a page. It made no comment on the extent of the literature showing that people consuming one to two standard drinks per day have a lower risk of cardiovascular outcomes than abstainers. At the time of the 2009 NHMRC guidelines,…