Alcohol has a hormetic physiological behavior that results in either increased or decreased cardiovascular risk depending on the amount consumed, drinking frequency, pattern of consumption, and the outcomes under study or even the type of alcoholic beverage consumed. However, the vast majority of studies elucidating the role of alcohol in cardiovascular and in the global burden of disease relies on epidemiological studies of associative nature which carry several limitations. This is why the cardiovascular benefits of low-moderate alcohol consumption are being questioned and perhaps might have been overestimated. Thus, the aim of this review was to critically discuss the current knowledge on the relationship between alcohol intake and cardiovascular disease. Besides new evidence associating low and moderate alcohol consumption with decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, several questions remain unanswered related to the concrete amount of safe consumption, the type of alcoholic beverage, and the age-, sex-, and genetic/ethnical-specific differences in alcohol consumption.
Keywords: alcohol; beer; cardiovascular disease; cholesterol; hypertension; myocardial infarction; polyphenols; spirits; stroke; wine.