Page last updated: March 2020
Association between alcohol consumption and atherosclerosis in smoking and non-smoking men

Many addictive substances, such as tobacco and alcohol, influence atherosclerosis development. Whether tobacco’s pro-atherosclerotic effect is influenced by alcohol consumption is unknown. A research team aimed to estimate the impact of alcohol intake on the presence of subclinical atherosclerosis in femoral arteries in smoking and non-smoking middle-aged men.

The researchers performed a cross-sectional analysis of a subset of the Aragon Workers Health Study (AWHS), comprising 2099 men with mean age 50.9 years without previous cardiovascular disease. The presence of plaques in femoral arteries was assessed by high-resolution sonography. Selfreported alcohol consumption over the previous year was measured with a food frequency questionnaire and particiapnts were divided into four groups according to their daily alcohol consumption ≤1g (abstainers), ≥2g to <30g, ≥30g to <60g, and ≥60 g/day. Participants were divided on ever-smoking (current and former), versus never-smoking strata in the main analysis. No significant association was identified between the different levels of alcohol intake and the likelihood of developing femoral artery atherosclerosis in never-smokers. Eversmoking was positively associated with femoral atherosclerosis overall (OR=3.00; 95%CI:2.40,3.74; p<0.001) and within each level of alcohol consumption. Atherosclerosis was lower in eversmokers who consumed 2g/day or more but less than 30g/day compared to those ever-smokers who were abstainers (OR=0.70; 95%CI:0.49,0.99; p<0.05). However, among them, atherosclerosis prevalence was still higher than among neversmokers who consumed alcohol in the same amount (2g/day or more but less than 30g/day) (OR=2.73; 95%CI:2.07,3.61; p<0.001).

Among middle-aged men, moderate alcohol consumption appears to be associated with lower prevalence of femoral artery subclinical atherosclerosis compared with alcohol abstinence especially in ever-smokers.

Source: Association between alcohol consumption and subclinical femoral atherosclerosis in smoking and non-smoking men: the AWHS Study. Moreno-Franco, B., Perez-Esteban, A., Civeira, F., Guallar-Castillón, P., Casasnovas, J. A., Mateo-Gállego, R., Jarauta, E., Malo, S., and Laclaustra, M. Addiction.

doi.org/10.1111/ add.15012
All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.