Frequently Asked Questions

MACH15 is the Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health Trial, a worldwide clinical study. 15 indicates that the trial will test a single U.S. standard serving of alcohol daily, which contains about 15 grams of alcohol.
The MACH15 study is designed to assess whether drinking one alcoholic beverage per day will decrease the chance of developing heart disease and diabetes. It is the first randomized (like the flip of a coin), international clinical study to ever look at the long-term effects of alcohol on heart disease and diabetes over about 6 years of follow-up among adults 50 years or older with above-average cardiovascular risk.
MACH15 is interested in the effects of one serving of alcohol (approximately 15 grams) daily, compared to no alcohol intake on
  1. The rate of new cases of cardiovascular disease
  2. The rate of new cases of diabetes among participants free of diabetes at baseline
The health effects of moderate (no more than 1-2 alcoholic beverages each day) alcohol consumption is still debated. Many studies have found that adults who reported drinking alcohol in moderation tended to develop heart disease and diabetes less often than adults who drank no alcohol. However, other studies found opposite results or showed no relationship between alcohol intake and these diseases. We are conducting this study because we want to help answer this question.
MACH15 will enroll about 7,800 subjects worldwide.
MACH15 participants are from a variety of backgrounds and locations, including 16 sites from around the world.
All participants must:
  • Be 50 years or older
  • Have consumed at least one alcoholic beverage in the last 5 years
  • Be above average risk for heart disease. Your risk of heart disease is determined by several things, including smoking history, health history, and levels of lipids in the blood (the clinical center can help figure this out).
Participants will be randomized (like the flip of a coin) to either drink one serving of alcohol each day or to not drink alcohol. One serving of alcohol per day is equivalent to the standard serving size of 5 ounces (150 mL) of wine, 12 ounces (350 mL) of beer, or 1.5 ounces (45 mL) of spirits. Participation involves up to 10 visits and 18 phone calls. Participants will also receive regular brief email or text messages throughout the study.
Yes. Protecting confidential participant information is a priority of ours. Medical record information will be identified by study number only. Only a select few individuals, who have received special training, will have access to a file which links study numbers with participants' names. MACH15 will be the only study to keep your information, and nothing that will personally identify participants will be published or shared.
  • 10 in-person visits. At these visits, participants will fill out questionnaires; have their blood drawn and vital signs taken.
  • 18 phone calls during the study. During phone calls, participants will be asked about general health and welfare, and alcohol consumption.
  • Regular text messages, emails or use of an app. These will be used to check if participants are drinking or not drinking.
The study will last about 6 years. This sets our study apart from any previous studies. Other studies only tested short-term effects of moderate alcohol consumption. There has not yet been a long-term randomized trial of alcohol consumption on risk of any chronic disease. We believe a long-term study will give the best and truest results.
Participants will receive regular blood pressure checks and blood tests (such as those used for diabetes). Depending on the site, participants may receive reimbursements or gifts during the study. Participants will receive information about a healthy lifestyle, including advice for a healthy diet. Participants will help answer the question "does one alcohol beverage every day prevent heart disease or diabetes?
Participants will not be charged for the blood tests, surveys, and any other medical tests that are part of this research study. Depending on the clinical site, alcohol will either be distributed to participants, or participants will be compensated for 75% of the monthly cost of the most commonly consumed beer in a given region. If a participant is no longer eligible for the study, we will cease questionnaire activity and no longer provide alcohol.
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) located in Boston, MA will serve as the Administrative Center for MACH15. The principal study investigator is Kenneth Mukamal, MD, MPH. In the first phase of the study, there will be 7 centers in the US, Europe, Africa, and South America. In the second phase 9 other sites will be added. This study is in conducted with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholic (NIAAA). This study will also work closely with the National Institute of Health (NIH) for general oversight and support.
The study is sponsored by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
There are some risks associated with alcohol:
  • It can be addictive. People who have or have had problems controlling alcohol use should not participate in this trial.
  • Alcohol can also interfere with the ability to drive or operate dangerous or delicate machinery.
  • Alcohol can increase sedative effects for medications that cause drowsiness, including common cough and cold medicines as well as drugs for anxiety and depression.
  • Alcohol can also raise levels of triglycerides in the blood. In people with chronic liver disease, alcohol can cause liver damage.
  • A less common side effect is weight gain as each alcoholic beverage contains about 100 calories.
  • Rare side effects are listed on the informed consent form and should be discussed with the investigator and the participant's regular doctor so that the participant can make a well-informed decision about participation in this trial.
Though participants will be consuming an extra 100 calories, research shows that moderate alcohol consumption is not associated with abdominal fat or a direct increase in weight. If participants exercise regularly and have a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption shouldn't affect weight. Participants will be provided with dietary guidance best suited to his/her lifestyle for optimal health.
We understand there may be social or religious events for which participants choose to consume alcohol. We believe that for the best study results, no alcohol will be consumed. However, we will issue eight "day off passes" per year to be used by a participant for special occasions for which he/she would like to drink.
We understand that sometimes it may not be possible to have a participant daily drink. We will issue eight "day off passes" each year to be used by a participant when he/she isn't able to drink.
Yes, participants who are assigned to consume alcohol can consume beer, red wine, white wine, or spirits.