Latest scientific news 13 December 2017

Japanese study indicates lower mortality risk with light-to-moderate consumption

This study is the first to investigate the impact of alcohol intake on mortality from five leading causes of death in Japan. The results suggest a J-shaped association* between the consumption of alcoholic beverages and the risk of total mortality and three leading causes of death (heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, cancer). However, heavy drinking increased the risk of mortality and highlights the importance of moderate drinking together with “liver holidays”.

Several studies have reported health benefits for light-to-moderate drinkers of alcoholic beverages, however, the optimal range varied across studies and by population. The health effects of alcohol intake might be different in Asian than in Western populations.

For this reason, Japanese researchers investigated the impact of drinking alcoholic beverages on the mortality from five leading causes of death. They assessed the alcohol intake of 102,849 Japanese men and women aged 40 to 69 years during a 10-year follow-up period.

A J-shaped association between the intake of alcoholic beverages and the mortality from cancer, heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and all causes was observed in women after multiple adjustments for confounding factors. The optimal upper limit of alcohol consumption for women was about 150 g per week. All-cause and cerebrovascular mortality – but not cancer and heart disease mortality – only increased in women with an intake of more than 450 grams per week.

A J-shaped association between alcohol consumption and mortality from cancer, cerebrovascular disease, heart disease, respiratory mortality and total mortality was also observed for men. The relative risk was lower than for non-drinkers up to 449 grams of alcohol per week for all the above causes of death, but not significantly for cancer and cerebrovascular disease.

Saito E, Inoue M, Sawada N, et al. Impact of Alcohol Intake and Drinking Patterns on Mortality From All Causes and Major Causes of Death in a Japanese Population. J Epidemiol. 2017 Nov 11. [Epub ahead of print]

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

Drinking categories of regular drinkers:

1-149 g of alcohol/week

150-299 g of alcohol/week

300-449 g of alcohol/week

450-599 g of alcohol/week

600 g or more of alcohol/week

* J-Shaped curve: Compared to non-drinkers, light and moderate intake of alcoholic beverages might have a protective effect on the mortality and morbidity risk from different diseases whereas heavy drinkers have an increased risk. This relationship is described in a J-shaped curve.