Drinkers face higher A-fib risk

A little booze is supposed to be good for you, right? It's what I see in the media all the time -- but it's not quite true.

While a moderate drinking habit can have some health benefits for some people, it can be more than offset by serious risks that don't make it into those glowing media reports.

Take atrial fibrillation, for example. It's a serious heart rhythm disorder that can raise the risk of heart failure and stroke -- and people who drink have a higher risk of getting it.

Now, new research confirms that you don't even have to be a heavy drinker to face that risk, because moderate drinking can increase the odds of A-fib by 15 percent in patients with heart disease, diabetes, or other heart risk factors.

Heavier drinkers had an even higher risk -- but everyone knows heavy drinking is bad for you. I'm more concerned about the moderate drinkers, who've probably heard that the habit isn't just healthy, but that it's especially good for the heart.

Clearly, it's not -- not for everyone, anyway, and along with raising the risk of A-fib, a moderating drinking habit can also increase the likelihood of a stroke in some patients and breast cancer in women. Booze can also interfere with many of the medications given to heart patients.

And let's not forget that even a moderate habit can lead to a car accident if you try to drive after a drink or two -- and that nearly every alcoholic started out as a moderate drinker at one point.

I won't say never drink, especially if you're healthy and know how to control your habit. Just be aware that there are risks, even if you don't always read about them in the glowing news reports about the supposed benefits of booze.