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Research Summary

Moderate Alcohol Intake Is Associated with Better Endothelial Function

Endothelial dysfunction, often assessed as flow-mediated dilation (FMD) of the brachial artery, contributes to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease (CVD). Investigators in the population-based Northern Manhattan Study performed a cross-sectional analysis of lifetime alcohol intake and its association with FMD using high-resolution B-mode ultrasound images among 884 stroke-free participants. Mean age of subjects was 66.8 years; 57% were women, 67% were Hispanic, 17% were black, and 15% were white.

  • Mean brachial FMD was 5.7% with a median of 5.5%.
  • Compared with nondrinkers, those defined as moderate drinkers (>1 drink per month to 2 drinks per day) had higher values for FMD. In multivariable analyses adjusting for CVD risk factors including sex, race/ethnicity, body mass index, diabetes mellitus, coronary artery disease, Framingham risk score, and medication use, there was a positive relationship between moderate alcohol consumption and FMD above the median value (adjusted odds ratio, 1.8).
  • No beneficial effect on FMD was seen for those who drank >2 drinks per day.


Indirect measurement of endothelial function is a very useful technique for assessing risk of CVD. In this large cross-sectional analysis, alcohol intake of up to 2 drinks per day, versus not drinking, was associated with better indices of endothelial function. These findings may point to an important mechanism by which moderate drinking lowers the risk of CVD. R. Curtis Ellison, MD


Suzuki K, Elkind MS, Boden-Albala B, et al. Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with better endothelial function: a cross sectional study. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2009;9:8.