Type of Alcohol Consumed and Mortality From All Causes, Coronary Heart Disease, and Cancer

Ann Intern Med. 2000 Sep 19;133(6):411-9. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-6-200009190-00008.


Background: Although the J-shaped relation between alcohol intake and mortality has been reproduced in many large cohort studies, the question of whether the effects of beer, wine, and spirits differ remains controversial.

Objective: To examine the relation between intake of different types of alcohol and death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer.

Design: Pooled cohort studies in which intake of beer, wine, and spirits; smoking status; educational level; physical activity; and body mass index were assessed at baseline.

Setting: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Participants: 13 064 men and 11 459 women 20 to 98 years of age.

Measurements: Number of deaths and time to death from all causes, coronary heart disease, and cancer during follow-up.

Results: During 257 859 person-years of follow-up, 4833 participants died. J-shaped relations were found between total alcohol intake and mortality at various levels of wine intake. Compared with nondrinkers, light drinkers who avoided wine had a relative risk for death from all causes of 0.90 (95% CI, 0.82 to 0.99) and those who drank wine had a relative risk of 0.66 (CI, 0. 55 to 0.77). Heavy drinkers who avoided wine were at higher risk for death from all causes than were heavy drinkers who included wine in their alcohol intake. Wine drinkers had significantly lower mortality from both coronary heart disease and cancer than did non-wine drinkers (P = 0.007 and P = 0.004, respectively).

Conclusion: Wine intake may have a beneficial effect on all-cause mortality that is additive to that of alcohol. This effect may be attributable to a reduction in death from both coronary heart disease and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Beer
  • Body Mass Index
  • Coronary Disease / mortality*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Factors
  • Smoking
  • Wine