Objective: To evaluate prospectively the health risk of wine and beer drinking in middle-aged men in the area of Nancy, France.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Subjects: A total of 36 250 healthy men who underwent comprehensive health appraisals in a center of preventive medicine between January 1, 1978, and December 31, 1983.
Main outcome measures: Education, professional and leisure activities, and smoking and drinking habits were evaluated using a questionnaire. Blood pressure and mean corpuscular volume and gamma-glutamyltransferase, glucose, and serum cholesterol levels were routinely measured, and electrocardiography was routinely performed. We recorded mortality from all causes and specific causes during a 12- to 18-year follow-up across categories of baseline alcohol consumption.
Results: Of the subjects, 28% drank beer, 61% drank wine but no beer, and 11% were abstainers; there was not much difference between social classes. During the follow-up, 3617 subjects died. The relative risk of death was estimated by the Cox proportional hazards model using nondrinkers as the reference and adjusting for 4 or 5 covariables. Moderate intake of both wine and beer was associated with lower relative risk for cardiovascular diseases; the risk was more significant with the intake of wine. For all-cause mortality, only daily wine intake (22-32 g of alcohol) was associated with a lower risk (0.67; 95% confidence interval, 0.58-0.77; P<.001) due to a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases, cancers, violent deaths, and other causes.
Conclusion: In eastern France, moderately drinking only wine was associated with a lower all-cause mortality, although drinking both wine and beer reduced the risk of cardiovascular death.