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Alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism: friend or foe?

Authors of a study published in the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine state that ‘A light to moderate consumption of certain types of alcoholic beverages may exert a favorable effect on cardiovascular risk, but no conclusive information is available on the putative relationship between alcohol intake and the risk of venous thromboembolism (VTE)’.

The study group performed an electronic search on Medline and Scopus to identify clinical studies linking alcohol intake and VTE risk. The literature search generated 16 studies, 4 of which are case-control, 1 cross-sectional and 11 prospective.

Significant reduction of VTE associated with alcohol intake was observed in only 4/16 studies, and in all these the association is only meaningful for a moderate amount of alcohol (i.e., 2-4 glasses). Two other studies observed that alcohol intake was associated with an increased risk of VTE, and the association was insignificant in the remainder. Binge drinking increased the VTE risk in one study but not in another. The consumption of beer was associated with a decreased VTE risk in one study but not in two others.

The authors conclude that the relationship between intake of alcoholic beverages and increased or decreased risk of VTE is largely elusive.

Source: Alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism: friend or foe? Lippi G, Mattiuzzi C, Franchini M. Internal and emergency medicine 10:8 2015 Dec pg 907-13.

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