june 2009

Alcohol consumption is directly associated with carotid intima-media thickness in Finnish young adults: the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

OBJECTIVES: There is substantial epidemiological data suggesting a J- or U-shaped association between alcohol consumption and coronary events. However, some studies in experimental animals suggest that alcohol may increase atherosclerosis. Therefore, our aim was to study whether alcohol consumption is associated with carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), marker of subclinical atherosclerosis, in young, healthy adults.

METHODS: Alcohol consumption, carotid IMT and conventional cardiovascular risk factors were investigated in 2074 subjects, aged 24-39 years.

RESULTS: In subjects consuming none, >0 to <2, 2 to or=4 units of alcohol per day, the respective carotid IMT values were 0.57+/-0.004, 0.59+/-0.003, 0.59+/-0.006, and 0.60+/-0.012 mm (mean+/-S.E.M., P<0.0001 for increasing IMT trend across alcohol consumption categories). This direct association between alcohol consumption and IMT was independent of age, sex and several cardiovascular risk factors, e.g. blood pressure, LDL-cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, BMI, smoking, CRP and insulin (P=0.008 in multivariable regression model). The frequencies of drinking wine or strong alcohol beverages (respective P-values 0.03 and 0.01 for increasing IMT trend across beverage consuming frequency) were directly correlated with carotid IMT in models adjusted for age, sex and risk factors.

CONCLUSIONS: We found a direct relationship between alcohol consumption and carotid IMT in young adults. This association was independent of cardiovascular risk factors suggesting that in young healthy adults alcohol consumption may have pro-atherogenic effects.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Juonala M.; Viikari J.S.; Kahonen M.; Laitinen T.; Taittonen L.; Loo B.M.; Jula A.; Marniemi J.; Rasanen L.; Ronnemaa T.; Raitakari O.T.
  • Issue

    Atherosclerosis / pages e93-e98 / volume 204
  • Published Date

    june 2009