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Research Summary

Alcohol and Metabolic Syndrome

To examine the association between alcohol consumption and metabolic syndrome (a cluster of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including obesity, hypertension, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol), researchers evaluated 4510 white participants of a population-based study of coronary heart disease (CHD). Of these participants (some who were chosen randomly and others selected due to their higher risk of CHD), 1393 had metabolic syndrome (defined as having at least 3 of the 5 above risk factors).

In analyses adjusted for potential confounders (e.g., demographics, smoking, physical activity, diabetes mellitus, coronary heart disease, diet),

  • people who consumed >2.6 g of alcohol per day were significantly less likely than those who never drank to have metabolic syndrome (odds ratio, OR, 0.6 for intake of 2.6 g–12 g of alcohol—up to 1 standard drink—per day; OR 0.6 for 12.1 g–24 g; and OR 0.7 for >24 g);
  • odds of metabolic syndrome were generally lower in women than in men, and in those who drank wine only, beer only, or >1 beverage type than in those who drank spirits only.


This study supports the findings from several other recent reports that have shown an inverse association between moderate alcohol consumption (generally regardless of beverage type) and metabolic syndrome and its component risk factors. Moderate drinkers may well have a lower risk of many of the antecedents of heart disease and diabetes.

Richard Saitz, MD, MPH


Djoussé L, Arnett DK, Eckfeldt JH, et al. Alcohol consumption and metabolic syndrome: does the type of beverage matter? Obes Res. 2004;12(9):1375–1385.