Page last updated: February 14, 2014
Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern and mortality

Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern and mortality Moderate alcohol intake has been related to lower mortality. However, according the authors of a recent Mediterranean cohort study, alcohol use includes other dimensions beyond the amount of alcohol consumed and these aspects have not been sufficiently studied as a comprehensive entity. The research aimed to test the relationship between an overall alcohol-drinking pattern and all-cause mortality.

18 394 Spanish participants were followed up to 12 years. A validated 136-item FFQ was used to assess baseline alcohol intake. The researchers assessed seven aspects of alcohol consumption to capture the conformity to a traditional Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern (MADP). It positively scored moderate alcohol intake, alcohol intake spread out over the week, low spirit consumption, wine preference, red wine consumption, wine consumed during meals and avoidance of binge drinking.

During the follow-up, 206 deaths were identified. For each 2-point increment in a 0-9 score of adherence to the MADP, the researchers observed a 25% relative risk reduction in mortality (95 % CI 11, 38 %). Within each category of alcohol intake, a higher adherence to the MADP was associated with lower mortality. Abstainers (excluded from the calculations of the MADP) exhibited higher mortality (hazard ratio 1·82, 95 % CI 1·14, 2·90) than participants highly adherent to the MADP.

Better adherence to an overall healthy alcoholdrinking pattern was associated with reduced mortality when compared with abstention or departure from this pattern. This reduction goes beyond the inverse association usually observed for moderate alcohol drinking. The authors emphasise that even moderate drinkers can benefit from the advice to follow a traditional MADP.

Source: Mediterranean alcohol-drinking pattern and mortality in the SUN (Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra) Project: a prospective cohort study. Gea A, Bes-Rastrollo M, Toledo E, Garcia-Lopez M, Beunza JJ, Estruch R, Martinez-Gonzalez MA. Br J Nutr. 2014 Jan 30:1-10.

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