Page last updated: January 6, 2018
Alcohol consumption and aortic calcification in healthy men aged 40-49 years

Several studies have reported a significant inverse association of light to moderate alcohol consumption with coronary heart disease (CHD). However, studies assessing the relationship between alcohol consumption and atherosclerosis have reported inconsistent results.

Research was conducted to determine the relationship between alcohol consumption and aortic calcification. The researchers used data from the population-based ERA-JUMP Study, comprising of 1,006 healthy men aged 40-49 years, without clinical cardiovascular diseases, from four race/ ethnicities: 301 Whites, 103 African American, 292 Japanese American, and 310 Japanese in Japan.

Aortic calcification was assessed by electron-beam computed tomography and quantified using the Agatston method. Alcohol consumption was categorised into four groups: 0 (non-drinkers), ≤1 (light drinkers), >1 to ≤3 (moderate drinkers) and >3 drinks per day (heavy drinkers) (1 drink = 12.5 g of ethanol). The study participants consisted of 25.6% non-drinkers, 35.3% light drinkers, 23.5% moderate drinkers, and 15.6% heavy drinkers. Tobit conditional regression and ordinal logistic regression were used to investigate the association of alcohol consumption with aortic calcification after adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors and potential confounders.

Heavy drinkers had significantly higher aortic calcification score compared to non drinkers, after adjusting for socio-demographic and confounding variables. [Tobit ratio (95% CI) = 2.3; odds ratio (95% CI) = 1.67]. This compared to [Tobit ratio = 1.25; odds ratio= 1.10] for light drinkers and [Tobit ratio = 0.86; odds ratio = 0.86] for moderate drinkers. There was no significant interaction between alcohol consumption and race/ethnicity on aortic calcification.

The findings suggest that heavy but not light or moderate alcohol consumption may be an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Source: Association of alcohol consumption and aortic calcification in healthy men aged 40-49 years for the ERA JUMP Study. Mahajan H, et al. Atherosclerosis, Volume 268, January 2018, Pages 84-91.

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