Alcohol volume, drinking pattern, and cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality: is there a U-shaped function?

Am J Epidemiol. 2002 Feb 1;155(3):242-8. doi: 10.1093/aje/155.3.242.


The health effects of a binge pattern of alcohol consumption have not been widely investigated. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cardiovascular consequences of binge drinking (consumption of eight or more drinks at one sitting) and usual (nonbinge) drinking in a longitudinal, population-based study. Data obtained from 1,154 men and women aged 18-64 years interviewed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, in 1990 and 1991 were linked to health care utilization and mortality records. Using an 8-year follow-up period, the authors performed separate Cox proportional hazards regression analyses for men and women on time to first event for physician visits, hospitalizations, and deaths due to coronary heart disease, hypertension, and other cardiovascular disease. Binge drinking increased the risk of coronary heart disease in both men (hazard ratio (HR) = 2.26, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22, 4.20) and women (HR = 1.10, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.18). It increased the risk of hypertension in men (HR = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.04, 2.35) but not in women. Binge drinking had no effect on the risk of other cardiovascular disease. In contrast, usual drinking had significant cardioprotective effects in both men and women. Thus, the harmful effects of binge drinking on cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality can be disaggregated from the protective effects of usual drinking at various levels of consumption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / complications*
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Manitoba / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Risk Factors