Light Alcohol Intake May Not Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease

Heavy consumption tied to exponential increases of cardiovascular disease risk

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WEDNESDAY, March 30, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- Alcohol intake at all levels is linked with higher risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a study published online March 25 in JAMA Network Open.

Kiran J. Biddinger, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the association of habitual alcohol intake with CVD risk and evaluated the direction and relative magnitude of cardiovascular risk associated with different amounts of alcohol consumption. The analysis included data from 371,463 participants in the UK Biobank.

The researchers found that a one standard deviation increase in genetically predicted alcohol consumption in Mendelian randomization analyses was associated with a 1.3-fold higher risk for hypertension and 1.4-fold higher risk for coronary artery disease. Additionally, there were nonlinear associations between alcohol consumption and both hypertension and coronary artery disease, with light alcohol intake associated with minimal increases in cardiovascular risk and heavier consumption associated with exponential increases in the risk for both clinical and subclinical CVD.

"Genetic analyses suggest causal associations between alcohol intake and cardiovascular disease but with unequal and exponential increases in risk at greater levels of intake, which should be accounted for in health recommendations around the habitual consumption of alcohol," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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