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Associations between alcohol consumption and cardio-metabolic risk factors in young adults

A study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology examined alcohol consumption and cardio-metabolic health in a cohort of young Australian adults. The authors state that the benefits of alcohol consumption for cardiovascular and metabolic health may have been overstated due to inappropriate comparisons with abstainers and inadequate control for confounding factors including physical activity and mental health. Their study sought to overcome these limitations.

Data from 2,200 participants aged 25-36 years from the 2004-06 Childhood Determinants of Adult Health were used. Alcohol consumption was assessed from questionnaire and cardio-metabolic risk factors were measured in clinics. Total alcohol consumption was categorised as none 0g/day; light >0-10g/day [reference]; moderate >10-20g/day; heavy >20-30g/day; or very heavy >30g/day) and was examined against dichotomous metabolic syndrome and its components: waist circumference, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose. Covariates included socio-demographics, smoking, diet, physical activity, fitness, depression and anxiety. 54% of participants were classified in the ‘light drinking’ group, 13.2% were in the ‘non-drinking’, 5.2% in ‘heavy’ or and 5.5% and in the ‘very heavy’ drinking groups.

Only moderate drinking was associated with a significantly lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome (prevalence ratio = 0.64, p < 0.05) compared with light drinking. Higher levels of alcohol consumption were associated with higher high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (beta = 0.05, ptrend < 0.001). Very heavy compared to light drinkers had higher systolic (beta = 3.01mm Hg, p < 0.01) and diastolic (beta = 2.07mm Hg, p < 0.05) blood pressure. Moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of MetS, and more favourable levels of lipids but not glucose or blood pressure even when compared to light, the research finds.

Source: Associations between alcohol consumption and cardio-metabolic risk factors in young adults Du D; Bruno R; Dwyer T; Venn A; Gall S. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology. Published early online 1 August 2017.

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