Heavy drinking associated with different risks for men and women
According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, heavy drinking (approximately four drinks a day) is associated with increased mortality in both men and women. The study, authored by Hiroyasu Iso, M.D., Ph.D., of Osaka University, and colleagues, found more specifically that men who drank four drinks a day were at elevated risk for stroke (HR 1.48, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.80), while women were not. Conversely, women who drank at least four drinks a day had a four-fold increase in risk for coronary heart disease; men that drank four drinks a day, however, had a nonsignificant 19% reduction in risk of dying from coronary heart disease. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that reviews the study’s findings:
Previous cohort studies have explored the connection between drinking alcohol and cardiovascular risk, but none have involved Asian women, “probably because of the low prevalence of drinkers and coronary heart disease,” according to the researchers.
To explore the issue, they turned to the Japan Collaborative Cohort Study, in which 34,776 men and 48,906 women living in 45 communities completed a baseline questionnaire that included information about alcohol consumption. The participants (ages 40 to 79 at baseline) were then followed for a median of 14.2 years.
Compared with nondrinkers, both male and female moderate-to-heavy drinkers — those who consume two or more drinks a day — tended to be younger, more hypertensive, and more likely to smoke (P<0.001 for all).
During the study, 1,628 participants (864 men and 764 women) died from stroke and 736 (431 men and 305 women) died from coronary heart disease.
Among men, consuming at least four drinks a day was associated with increased mortality from total stroke (HR 1.48, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.80), and hemorrhagic (HR 1.67, 95% CI 1.17 to 2.38), intraparenchymal (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.45), and ischemic (HR 1.35, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.75) subtypes.
This level of alcohol consumption appeared to be associated with protection against coronary heart disease, but the risk reduction was not statistically significant (HR 0.81, 95% CI 0.61 to 1.08).
Men who drank 69 grams of alcohol — about six drinks — a day or more were at an elevated risk of total stroke (HR 1.71, 95% CI 1.31 to 2.24) and total cardiovascular disease (HR 1.28, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.55).