Alcohol Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer and Mortality: A Prospective Cohort Study

OBJECTIVES:

Studies regarding whether light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) have generated mixed results. Further, few studies have comprehensively examined the potential impact of alcohol consumption on diverse disease outcomes. The current study aimed to prospectively investigate dose-response association between alcohol consumption and risk of developing major chronic diseases, including CVD, cancers and mortality.

METHODS:

The study consisted of 83,732 Chinese adults (aged 18-96 y) without history of CVD and cancer from the Kailuan Study, 2006-2007. Participants were categorized into 6 groups based on self-report alcohol consumption (grams of pure ethanol per week): 0, 1-25, 26-150, 151-350, 351-750, and >750 g/wk. Incident cases of CVD (including stroke, myocardial infarction, heart failure andatrial fibrillation), cancers (total and site-specific), and mortality were confirmed by review of medical records. Major chronic disease was defined as the initial occurrence of CVD, cancer, or death during follow-up.

RESULTS:

During a median follow up of 10.0 years (interquartile range 9.7-10.2 years), there were 6411 incidences of CVDs, 2947 incidences of cancers and 6646 deaths. Compared to zero intake of alcohol, the adjusted hazard ratio (HR) was 0.72 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.67, 0.78) for consuming 1-25 g/wk, 0.83 (95%CI: 0.76, 0.90) for 26-150 g/wk, and 0.88 (95%CI: 0.81, 0.95) for 151-350 g/wk, after adjusting for age, sex, lifestyle (eg, smoking and obesity), social economic status, blood glucose concentration and medication use. A trend was identified between >750 g ethanol/wk and higher chronic disease risk (adjusted HR = 1.13; 95%CI: 0.95, 1.36), which reached significance for cancer (adjusted HR = 1.51; 95%CI: 1.07, 2.11). Similar results were observed in sub-group analyses alcoholic beverage type, occupation, men, >50 years, and never smokers.

CONCLUSIONS:

Light to moderate alcohol consumption has an overall beneficial effect for major chronic diseases.

FUNDING SOURCES:

This research is supported by the start-up grant from the college of health and human development and the department of nutritional sciences, Penn State University and the Institute for Cyber Science Seed Grant Program, Penn State University.