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Research Summary

The Effects of Alcohol Use on Blood Pressure:  Does Gender Matter?

In this study, researchers assessed whether the effects of alcohol use on blood pressure differ by gender. They examined data from 2650 subjects who had participated in a national health and nutrition study and reported consuming about ≥1 drinks per day in the past year.  

  • Twenty-one percent of subjects had hypertension.
  • Systolic blood pressure was significantly higher in men who drank ≥3 drinks per day than in men who drank 1 drink per day (e.g., about 125 mm Hg with 1 drink, 128 mm Hg with 3 drinks, and 131 mm Hg with ≥4 drinks per day). Results were similar for diastolic blood pressure.
  • Alcohol use did not significantly affect blood pressure in women.


The results of this study should be interpreted with caution. The analyses were limited to subjects who consumed about ≥1 drink per day, a group representing a small proportion of the U.S. population. Further, no information on people who drank less or who abstained was provided. Thus, the author’s statement that "alcohol intake of up to 2 drinks per day has no effect on blood pressure" cannot be supported. Similarly, while blood pressure did not differ among women who drank 1 drink per day and those who drank more, a significant difference might have been observed at a lower threshold: it is possible that women who consumed <1 drink per day had higher blood pressure than those who abstained, but this was not tested.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD


McFarlane SI, von Gizycki H, Salifu M, et al.  Alcohol consumption and blood pressure in the adult US population: assessment of gender-related effects. J Hypertens. 2007;25(5):965–970.