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Critique 244:  Is “ideal cardiovascular health” more common among consumers of wine than among drinkers of other beverages?  —  18 December 2020

While a beneficial effect on cardiovascular disease of moderate drinking has been shown repeatedly in epidemiologic studies, the specific effects of different types of alcohol have not been well established.  The authors examined the relation between alcohol type and an index of ideal cardiovascular health (CVH) as measured by the American Heart Association’s seven CVH metrics.  Data from more than six thousand men and women, participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, were used to relate the association of the consumption of wine, beer, and liquor to the CVH score.

The authors report that participants who consumed 1-2 drinks/day of wine had higher odds of optimal CVH scores compared to those who never drank wine [adjusted prevalence odds ratio (POR) 1.64 (1.12-2.40)]. However, in comparison with participants who never drank beer or liquor, the odds of optimal CVH scores were lower for consumers of these beverages.

Forum members had some questions about the methodology for judging intake of the different beverages, as well as the statistical approach used in these analyses.  However, they consider that the results (more favorable associations with wine consumption than from that of other beverages on indices of cardiovascular health) are in line with most previous studies.

It is important to realize that this study did not measure effects on the risk of disease occurrence or mortality, but just on the CVH index, a measure of overall cardiovascular health.  Thus, we cannot tell specifically from this study whether the higher health indices among moderate wine drinkers was the result of the wine that they drink (even though this might be expected to some extent since, for example, moderate wine intake is known to favorably affect BMI, blood lipids, and blood glucose) or that their results relate to the fact that people with more moderate lifestyles and higher education, income, etc., tend to prefer moderate wine consumption and are less likely to be binge or heavy drinkers.  It may be that wine drinkers make better decisions on all lifestyle behaviors than consumers of other beverages.

Reference: Ogunmoroti O, Osibogun O, McClelland RL, Lazo M, Mathews L, Okunrintemi V, Oni ET, Burke GL, Michos ED.  Alcohol type and ideal cardiovascular health among adults of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis.  Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2020: Pre-publication release

For the full critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, please click here.
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