We tested whether teetotalism explains the upturn in cardiovascular risk for non-drinkers and whether wine is a more favorable alcohol type. We studied 115,592 men and women aged 40-44 years who participated in the age 40 program in Norway in 1994-1999 and were followed for an average of 16 years with 550 cardiovascular deaths. Self-reported number of glasses of beer, wine and spirits during 14 days was transformed to alcohol units/day. One unit is approximately 8 grams of pure alcohol. The mean and median number of alcohol units/day were 0.70 and 0.46. Teetotallers had higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than alcohol consumers, multivariate adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) 1.97 (1.52-2.56). The use of alcohol-related deaths as endpoint substantiated a selection of previous alcohol users to the teetotal group. Without teetotallers there was no association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality. However, the multivariate adjusted hazard ratio per one unit/day of wine was 0.76 (0.58-0.99). The corresponding figures for beer and spirits were 1.04 (0.94-1.15) and 0.98 (0.75-1.29). The upturn in risk for non-drinkers could be explained by a higher risk for teetotallers who likely included previous alcohol users or teetotalers who started to drink during follow-up. Wine gave the most favorable risk estimates.

Published in Cardiovascular System
BACKGROUND: Compelling evidence suggests that excessive alcohol consumption increases the risk of atrial fibrillation (AF), but the effect of light-moderate alcohol consumption is less certain. We investigated the association between alcohol consumption within recommended limits and AF risk in a light-drinking population. METHODS AND RESULTS: Among 47 002 participants with information on alcohol consumption in a population-based cohort study in Norway, conducted from October 2006 to June 2008, 1697 validated AF diagnoses were registered during the 8 years of follow-up. We used Cox proportional hazard models with fractional polynomials to analyze the association between alcohol intake and AF. Population attributable risk for drinking within the recommended limit (ie, at most 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men without risky drinking) compared with nondrinking was also calculated. The average alcohol intake was 3.8+/-4.8 g/d. The adjusted hazard ratio for AF was 1.38 (95% confidence interval, 1.06-1.80) when we compared participants consuming >7 drinks per week with abstainers. When we modeled the quantity of alcohol intake as a continuous variable, the risk increased in a curvilinear manner. It was higher with heavier alcohol intake, but there was virtually no association at <1 drink per day for women and <2 drinks per day for men in the absence of risky drinking. The population attributable risk among nonrisky drinkers was 0.07% (95% confidence interval, -0.01% to 0.13%). CONCLUSIONS: Although alcohol consumption was associated with a curvilinearly increasing risk of AF in general, the attributable risk of alcohol consumption within recommended limits among participants without binge or problem drinking was negligible in this population
Published in Cardiovascular System

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a possible risk factor for abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA), but evidence from individual studies is weak and inconsistent. Existing narrative reviews suggest the possibility of non-linear associations. The aim here was to quantify any association using a systematic literature review, followed by dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.

METHODS: MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science were searched systematically to January 2017 for relevant prospective studies of alcohol consumption and AAA risk. Summary estimates of highest versus lowest levels of consumption, and linear and non-linear dose-response curves were quantified using random-effects models.

RESULTS: Eleven relevant cohorts were identified describing results from 3580 individuals with among 473 092 participants. Data were extracted from ten cohorts for meta-analyses of high versus low levels of alcohol consumption (risk ratio for AAA 0.93, 95 per cent c.i. 0.78 to 1.11; P = 0.4, I2 = 47 per cent). The linear dose-response risk ratio for AAA, derived from 11 cohorts, was 1.00 (0.97 to 1.04) per 8 g alcohol per day (P = 0.9, I2 = 73 per cent). Non-linear dose-response results showed a tick-shaped curve with lower risk up to 2 units/day, but increasing risk beyond that (P = 0.05). The increase in risk beyond 2 units/day was stronger in men than in women.

CONCLUSION: Although the linear dose-response analysis revealed little evidence of an association between alcohol consumption and AAA risk, a tick-shaped trend in the association was observed. This non-linear dose-response analysis revealed reduced risks for alcohol consumption below 2 units/day, masking increased risks for 2 or more units/day.

Published in Cardiovascular System

To better understand the association of alcohol intake with cognitively healthy longevity (CHL), we explored the association between amount and frequency of alcohol intake and CHL among 1,344 older community-dwelling adults. Alcohol intake was assessed by questionnaire in 1984-1987. Cognitive function was assessed in approximate four-year intervals between 1988 and 2009. Multinomial logistic regression, adjusting for multiple lifestyle and health factors, was used to examine the association between alcohol consumption and CHL (living to age 85 without cognitive impairment), survival to age 85 with cognitive impairment (MMSE score >1.5 standard deviations below expectation for age, sex, and education), or death before age 85. Most participants (88%) reported some current alcohol intake; 49% reported a moderate amount of alcohol intake, and 48% reported drinking near-daily. Relative to nondrinkers, moderate and heavy drinkers (up to 3 drinks/day for women and for men 65 years and older, up to 4 drinks/day for men under 65 years) had significantly higher adjusted odds of survival to age 85 without cognitive impairment (p's < 0.05). Near-daily drinkers had 2-3 fold higher adjusted odds of CHL versus living to at least age 85 with cognitive impairment (odds ratio (OR) = 2.06; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.21, 3.49) or death before 85 (OR = 3.24; 95% CI: 1.92, 5.46). Although excessive drinking has negative health consequences, these results suggest that regular, moderate drinking may play a role in cognitively healthy longevity.

Published in General Health

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