A cross-sectional study estimated the association between patterns of alcohol consumption and biomarkers of coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. 10,793 individuals representative of the Spanish population aged ≥18 years were assessed.
The threshold between moderate and heavy drinking was 40 g of alcohol/day in men and 24 g/day in women. Binge drinking was defined as intake of ≥80 g of alcohol in men and ≥60 g in women at any drinking occasion in the preceding 30 days. Analyses were performed with generalised linear models with adjustment for the main confounders, and results were expressed as the percentage change in the geometric mean (PCGM).
Compared to non-drinkers, moderate and heavy drinkers had progressively higher serum HDLcholesterol, with a PCGM ranging from 4.8% (95% CI: 3.7-6.0%) in moderate drinkers without binge drinking to 9.6% (5.1-14.2%) in heavy drinkers with binge drinking. Fibrinogen decreased progressively with alcohol intake, from -2.2% (-3.1 to -1.3%) in moderate drinkers without binge drinking to -5.8% (-9.4 to -2.0%) in heavy drinkers with binge drinking. Leptin, glycated hemoglobin and the HOMA-index also decreased with increasing alcohol intake, and particularly with binge drinking.
Moderate alcohol intake is associated with improved HDL-cholesterol, fibrinogen and markers of glucose metabolism, which is consistent with the reduced CHD risk of moderate drinkers in many studies. Heavy and binge drinking were also associated with favourable levels of CHD biomarkers; since these drinking patterns produce substantial health harms, our results should not be used to promote alcohol consumption.
Source: Alcohol drinking patterns and biomarkers of coronary risk in the Spanish population. Galán I, Valencia-Martín JL, Guallar-Castillón P, Rodríguez- Artalejo F. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2014 Jan 10.