Latest scientific news 07 November 2017

J-Curve re-confirmed: Light to moderate drinking might be protective against all-cause and cardio vascular diseases (CVD) mortality

An analysis of a very large US population based study confirmed the J-shaped curve and demonstrated that light and moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages was associated with a decreased risk of all-cause and CVD mortality. Only light drinkers had a reduced cancer risk. Contrary, heavy alcohol drinking as well as binge drinking was related to an increased all-cause and cancer-specific mortality.

The evidence regarding the risk of morbidity and mortality among light to moderate drinkers is inconsistent. Previous studies have reported a lower risk of total and CVD mortality among light to moderate drinkers whereas a few studies reported a higher risk of breast cancer.

In this large representative sample of US adults (366,376 participants), the results re-emphasized the existence of a J-shaped curve in the alcoholic beverages-mortality association and support current findings that light to moderate drinking might be protective (21% -22% lower risk of total mortality), especially for CVD (26-29% lower risk). At these moderate amounts, the cancer mortality was not increased. Only heavy drinking or binge drinking had serious health consequences, the cancer mortality increased by 27% and the total mortality by 11%. The authors concluded that a balance between beneficial and detrimental effects of alcohol consumption on health should be considered when making recommendations for individuals and populations, however, the reduction of harmful or high consumption of alcoholic beverages remains necessary and essential.

1 alcoholic drink = 14 g of alcohol which is the equivalent of approx. 150 ml of wine (12 %vol)

Definition of drinking:  6 drinking categories

Lifelong abstention

Lifelong occasional drinkers: less than 12 drinks in the past year

Former drinkers (but less than 12 drinks in the past year)

Current light drinkers: < 3 drinks/week

Moderate drinkers: > 3 drinks to 14 drinks/week for men, > 3 drinks to 7 drinks for women

Heavy drinkers: > 14 drinks/week for men, >7 drinks/week for women

No beverage-specific data

Binge drinkingBinge drinking (consuming rapidly four or more alcoholic drinks over a short period of time) has bee...: 5 or more drinks at one occasion

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 US adults, 2017, J Am Coll Cardiology, Vol 70, No 8: 913-922

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.