Drinking pattern and beverage type can influence the risk of heart
disease by affecting the accumulation of abdominal fat, a body
characteristic shown to be an important risk factor for cardiovascular
diseases according to epidemiologists from the University at Buffalo.
The study, by Professor Dorn et al published in the Journal of
Nutrition reports that men and women who drank infrequently but
heavily had more abdominal fat or "central adiposity," as measured
by abdominal height, than people who consumed the same amount
but drank regularly.
The type of alcohol consumed appeared to contribute differently
to the accumulation of abdominal fat. Wine drinkers showed the
lowest abdominal height, while liquor drinkers had the highest.
Beer as an alcohol source wasnt associated with central adiposity.
In addition, current drinkers, those who had consumed alcohol
within the past 30 days, had lower abdominal height than both
men and women abstainers.
Dorn conducted the study in 2,343 men and women selected aged
35 to 79 who had never been treated for heart disease so could
serve as healthy controls in the Western New York Health Study,
a series of case-control studies that examine alcohol drinking
patterns and chronic disease risk.
Researchers collected information on alcohol consumption during
the past 30 days, covering beverage type, total grams of alcohol,
drinking intensity (number of drinks consumed per drinking day),
drinking frequency and drinking with or without food. Categories
of frequency were: lifetime abstainers, non-current drinkers (no
alcohol for 30 days) and current drinkers. Other lifestyle habits-smoking,
physical activity, diet, disease prevalence, prescriptiondrugusewere
recorded. Analysis of the variables showed that small amounts
of alcohol consumed on a regular basis were associated with the
smallest abdominal heights, while participants who drank sporadically
but intensely-more than 3-4 drinks per drinking occasion-had the
highest measures. However, within all categories of drinking frequency,
the number of drinks mattered. In both men and women,the more
drinks per drinking day, the higher the abdominal measurement,
results showed."These findings support what has been shown in
other studies about the beneficial effect of moderate drinking
on heart disease," said Dorn. "It also is more evidence that the
way people drink is important, and not just the amount of alcohol
SOURCE: Dorn JM et al. Alcohol Drinking Patterns Differentially
Affect Central Adiposity as Measured by Abdominal Height in Women
&Men. J Nutr 2003;133:2655-62.