A team of researchers investigated whether teetotalism explains the upturn in cardiovascular risk for non-drinkers and whether wine is a more favourable alcohol type. 115,592 men and women aged 40-44 years who participated in the age 40 programme in Norway in 1994-1999 were followed for an average of 16 years with 550 cardiovascular deaths. Self-reported number of glasses of beer, wine and spirits during 14 days was transformed to alcohol units/day. The mean and median number of alcohol units/day were 0.70 and 0.46. The study found that teetotallers had higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than alcohol consumers, multivariate adjusted hazard ratio 1.97 (95% CI) (1.52-2.56). The use of alcohol-related deaths as endpoint substantiated a selection of previous alcohol users to the teetotal group. Without teetotallers there was no association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality.
The multivariate adjusted hazard ratio per one unit/day of wine was 0.76 (0.58-0.99). The corresponding figures for beer and spirits were 1.04 (0.94-1.15) and 0.98 (0.75-1.29). The upturn in risk for non-drinkers could be explained by a higher risk for teetotallers who likely included previous alcohol users or teetotallers who started to drink during follow-up. Wine gave the most favourable risk estimates.
Source: Consumption of alcohol and cardiovascular disease mortality: a 16 year follow-up of 115,592 Norwegian men and women aged 40-44 years. Tverdal A, Magnus P, Selmer R, Thelle D. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017 Sep 21. doi: 10.1007/s10654-017-0313-4.