A beer (or two) a day could protect from heart attacks, scientists suggest.

Italian researchers found drinking around 1.4 pints of beer a day could reduce the risk of heart diseases by around 25 per cent.

A metareview of 150 studies conducted by the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, Pozzilli, suggested up to two small 330ml cans of beer a day is unlikely to damage a person's health, The Times reports.

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1/10 10. Poland

2/10 9. Germany

3/10 8. Luxembourg

4/10 7. France

5/10 6. Hungary

6/10 5. Russia

7/10 4. Czech Republic

8/10 3. Estonia

9/10 2. Austria

10/10 1. Lithuania

1/10 10. Poland

2/10 9. Germany

3/10 8. Luxembourg

4/10 7. France

5/10 6. Hungary

6/10 5. Russia

7/10 4. Czech Republic

8/10 3. Estonia

9/10 2. Austria

10/10 1. Lithuania

The researchers said most women could drink a small can of beer a day and most men two without any difference to their chances of getting most cancers, dementia or other common diseases.

Their study, published in the journal Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases, also found beer offers similar protection from heart diseases as wine, but greater protection than spirits.

Alcohol limits cut

The epidemiologists concluded the alcohol content may raise levels of "good" cholesterol to reduce the risk of heart disease.

They also stress excessive alcohol use is damaging to several human organs and is a major public health and social issue.

"Unless they are at high risk for alcohol-related cancers or alcohol dependency, there is no reason to discourage healthy adults who are already regular light or moderate beer consumers from continuing," the researchers wrote.

However, Dr Annie Britton, a lecturer in epidemiology from University College London, told The Independent: “We need to interpret this paper with caution. There is increasing concern that the epidemiological studies upon which this evidence is based are flawed.

"Comparing the health of moderate drinkers to that of abstainers (particularly, when ex-drinkers are included in the abstainer group) may reflect other differences between these groups.

"The cardioprotective benefit that is attributed to alcohol, including beer, may be over-estimated.”

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