Forget what you've heard, even one drink a day can be harmful to your health


NEW YORK – Remember when the experts said having one alcoholic drink a day was not harmful, and perhaps even helpful to the human body?

Well, not so much anymore.

A new study by the American College of Cardiology says that even one drink per day could cause a potentially serious irregular heartbeat or "flutter" in people who imbibe on a regular basis.

The study showed that there is an 8 percent increase in the risk of an irregular heartbeat for every drink per day consumed.

So the risks increase twofold with two drinks, and so on.

An irregular heartbeat directly affects the heart and is the leading cause of stroke, heart failure and other heart issues.

The study, which followed nearly 900,000 people over 12 years, shows the increase shows up in both men and women equally.

"People who continue to consume alcohol at moderate rates may also notice their irregular heartbeats become more frequent. This is concerning, because it can lead to serious issues, such as heart failure and stroke," said the study's lead author, Professor Peter Kistler, Ph.D. of Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute and the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. "So, even though we do not have randomized data that tells us what a 'safe' amount is to consume, people with an irregular heart beat should probably drink no more than one alcoholic drink per day with two alcohol free days a week."

That goes against the research that showed that people who drink small amounts on regular basis are actually reducing their risk of heart disease.

Kistler says that people with an irregular heartbeat should probably cut down to one alcoholic drink per day and go two days a week without a drink.