January 31/Montreal/The Montreal Gazette -- A glass of red wine a day may not actually keep the doctor away, according to a study by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Researchers there have found a widely held belief linking low amounts of alcohol consumption with heart disease prevention is still inconclusive.

Even worse, enjoying the beverage may be detrimental to fighting other diseases, including several cancers, says the review, which looked at 44 international studies dating back over the last 20 years.

"Basically, the take-away point is: If you want to do something good for your health, stop smoking, take a little walk, go to the gym," said the study's lead author, Jüergen Rehm, on Monday. "Alcohol is not the best way."

In the analysis, researchers examined 38,627 incidents related to heart disease (including deaths) involving 957,684 people in Canada, the U.S., Asia and South America. What they found was a "huge variability" in the results.

"Once you look at all of the results for the planet, something that looked dead solid based on one study or two studies looks a little bit more shaky," Rehm said.

Some of the research also shows having one drink a day may be beneficial, but anything more than that cancels out the positive effects.

"If someone binge drinks even once a month, any health benefits from light to moderate drinking disappear," he said.

Plus, having excessive amounts of alcohol also increased heart disease related incidents and the likelihood of a variety of cancers, including mouth, pharynx and liver.

 From the January 31, 2012, Prepared Foods' Daily News.