Alcohol may be good for you, according to some studies – but drinking less is even better, new research suggests. People who cut down on the booze improve their heart health, and see their body-mass index (BMI) and blood pressure drop.

The new finding throws into question the protective effects of alcohol, and especially red wine, on the health of our heart and cardiovascular system. Light-to-moderate drinkers, defined as those who drink 0.6 to 0.8 fluid ounces a day, or around one small glass of wine, were thought to enjoy the most protective effect.

But less is more, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, who reckon that even light drinkers would benefit from cutting back. A 17 per cent reduction in weekly intake results in a 10 per cent reduced risk of coronary heart disease, they say.

They base their recommendation on a reanalysis of more than 50 studies that involved around 260,000 people.

(Source: British Medical Journal, 2014; 349: g4164)