I don't qualify for the original exploratory study - I'm not 55+ or at high risk for heart disease - but I'm crossing my fingers that the initial results are promising so they go ahead with a planned larger study!

Pharmaceutical companies have said that recruiting for clinical trials is difficult, but according to the Boston Globe, "there's no shortage of people interested in participating" in a study conducted by a researcher at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center evaluating whether a daily dose of alcohol can help prevent heart disease.

There have been studies conducted on this question, but they haven't been rigorous or definitive, according to the Wall Street Journal health blog.

In Kenneth Mukamal's study (financed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), 40 patients 55 and older at risk for heart disease will be randomized to either Crystal Light (lemonade or raspberry lemonade) plus a small amount of grain alcohol (diluted to about 10%) or just Crystal Light and will be followed for six months. At baseline and after six months, according to clinicaltrials.gov, researchers will measure "several standard and novel cardiovascular risk markers in the blood and will perform magnetic resonance imaging to measure atherosclerosis of the aorta."

The Boston Globe reporter, Stephen Smith, does a wonderful job capturing why we need a study like this: "[The] public often feels whipsawed. One week, alcohol's good for you. The next, it's bad for you."

So, all joking aside, I think this is a great idea. Should I drink a glass of wine per day, or will it give me cancer? What about wine versus beer versus liquor? How much is too much? How does it vary by age, gender and maybe even ethnicity? This is definitely one study I'm excited to read about in mid-2010, when the researchers estimate they'll have results.