Moderate Alcohol Intake May Reduce Mortality Risk

Light or moderate alcohol intake may reduce the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related mortality, according to the findings of a recent study. The findings support evidence from previous studies that have suggested potential protective effects of consuming alcohol in moderation on cardiovascular health and mortality.

In their study, researchers linked 13 waves of data from the National Health Interview Surveys from 1997 to 2009 to the National Death Index records through December 31, 2011. A total of 333,247 participants were included and categorized into the following 6 groups based on self-reported alcohol consumption patterns: lifetime abstainers, lifetime infrequent drinkers, former drinkers, current light drinkers, current moderate drinkers, or current heavy drinkers. Cancer-related mortality, all-cause mortality, and CVD-related mortality were assessed as the main outcomes. 
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Over a median 8.2 years of follow-up, 34,754 participants died, of which 8947 deaths were attributed to CVD and 8427 deaths were attributed to cancer.

Participants who were light or moderate alcohol consumers had a reduced risk for all-cause and CVD mortality compared with lifetime abstainers. However, those who were heavy alcohol consumers had a significantly increased risk for all-cause and cancer-related mortality. Likewise, binge drinking 1 or more days during the week was associated with an increased risk for all-cause and cancer-related mortality.

“Light and moderate alcohol intake might have a protective effect on all-cause and CVD-specific mortality in US adults,” the researchers concluded. “Heavy or binge drinking was associated with increased risk of all-cause and cancer-specific mortality.”

—Melissa Weiss


Xi B, Veeranki SP, Zhao M, Ma C, Yan Y, Mi J. Relationship of alcohol consumption to all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer-related mortality in U.S. adults [published online]. J Am Coll Cardiol. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2017.06.054.