Drinkaware has dismissed research conducted by an official body in Spain, which concluded that alcohol can lower heart disease in men with high consumption levels by almost a third.

The research, from the public health department of the Basque government in San Sebastian, claimed late last week that male consumers of large amounts of alcohol could have the risk of heart disease cut by more than 33%.

The department, a Spanish member of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC), also concluded that men who drank the equivalent of up to 11 shots of vodka a day were 50% less likely to suffer from heart disease than male consumers who abstained from drinking alcohol.

The chief medical adviser for UK alcohol charity Drinkaware, however, has warned consumers not to take the research as an excuse to over-imbibe alcohol.

"The findings appear to fly in the face of other high quality evidence which suggests that above the current Government drinking guidelines, the more people drink, the greater their chances of developing heart disease," said Professor Paul Wallace. "These new findings contradict a large number of similar international studies and should therefore be treated with caution.

"Any possible benefits related to heart disease from drinking alcohol are likely to be far outweighed by the effects of excessive alcohol use in increasing the chances of developing different types of cancer, mental health problems and liver damage."

The research was conducted on more than 15,500 Spanish men and 26,000 women.