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Research Summary

Drinking Frequency May Lower Heart Disease Risk in Men, Not Women

To determine whether patterns of alcohol use affect the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), investigators in Denmark studied baseline drinking habits and 6-year CHD incidence in 28,448 women and 25,052 men. Subjects were aged 50–65 years and free of CHD at study entry. During follow-up, 749 women and 1283 men developed CHD.

  • In adjusted analyses comparing drinkers with nondrinkers, drinking amounts were inversely associated with CHD risk for both women and men (e.g., hazard ratios [HRs] approximately 0.8 for 7–13 drinks per week and 0.7 for 21–27 drinks per week).
  • For men, drinking frequency was also inversely associated with CHD risk. Men who drank alcohol daily had the lowest risk (HR 0.6 for daily drinking and HR 0.9 for 1 drinking day a week, compared with <1 drinking day a week).
  • For women, reduced risk was similar across all drinking frequencies (e.g., HR 0.7 for daily drinking and HR 0.6 for 1 drinking day per week).

Comments:

This large prospective study confirmed that alcohol consumption may reduce risk of CHD for both women and men by a similar magnitude. The reduction in risk with increasing drinking frequency for men, but not women, may relate to fewer female subjects in some of the higher frequency categories.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD

Reference:

Tolstrup J, Jensen MK, Tjønneland A, et al. Prospective study of alcohol drinking patterns and coronary heart disease in women and men. BMJ. 2006;332(7552):1244–1248.


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