Smoking, Drinking, and the Risk of Raynaud’s Phenomenon 

Studies examining the association between alcohol and tobacco use and primary Raynaud’s phenomenon have yielded conflicting results. Using data from the community-based Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort, researchers assessed these possible associations in 1602 men and 1840 women who were white and had a mean age of about 62 years. Analyses were adjusted for key confounders (e.g., cardiovascular disease, body mass index).  

  • Approximately 6% of women and 4% of men had Raynaud’s phenomenon.
  • Regular smoking in the past 12 months, versus not smoking, was significantly associated with an increased risk of Raynaud’s in men (odds ratio [OR], 2.6) but not in women. 
  • Moderate drinking, versus not drinking,* was significantly associated with a decreased risk in men (OR, 0.5) but not in women.
    • However, drinking red wine (approximately 1 glass or more per week), versus no red-wine drinking, appeared to lower risk for both men (OR, 0.3) and women (OR, 0.6). 
  • Heavier drinking, versus not drinking, was significantly associated with increased risk in women (OR, 1.7) but not in men.


The major limitation of this epidemiological work is its generalizability because the cohort was white and middle-aged. Nevertheless, this study shows yet another harm of smoking and another possible benefit of moderate alcohol use in men. It also suggests that the impact of these behaviors on the risk of Raynaud’s may be sex specific.

Jeffrey H. Samet, MD, MA, MPH

*Not drinking is about <2 drinks per week for both women and men; moderate drinking is ≥2 to ≤7 drinks per week for women and ≥2 to ≤14 drinks for men; heavier drinking is >7 drinks per week for women and >14 drinks for men.


Suter LG, Murabito JM, Felson DT, et al. Smoking, alcohol consumption, and Raynaud’s phenomenon in middle age. Am J Med. 2007;120(3):264–271.

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