DRINKING less can help to improve the health of your heart, experts have said.

A reduction in alcohol consumption could improve the cardiovascular health of even light-to-moderate drinkers, research suggests.

The authors of the study, published in The British Medical Journal, challenged previous research which has suggested that light-to-moderate amounts of alcohol could have a protective effect for the heart.

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The research, led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine with University College London and University of Pennsylvania in the US, examined 56 studies on drinking habits on more than quarter of a million people.

They found that people who carried a certain genetic variant associated with non-drinking and lower alcohol consumption had a "more favourable cardiovascular profile" than those without the ADH1B variant.

By using this genetic ­variant as an indicator of lower alcohol consumption, they were able to link these individuals with improved cardiovascular health.

These people have a 10 per cent lower risk of coronary heart disease, they found.