Effects of age on the relationship between drinking and atherosclerotic risk factors

Gerontology. 2002 May-Jun;48(3):151-6. doi: 10.1159/000052834.


Background: Drinking modulates the progress of atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases by affecting atherosclerotic risk factors. However, age-dependent effects of drinking on atherosclerotic risk factors have not been clarified in detail.

Objective: In this cross-sectional study, we investigated whether the relationship between drinking and atherosclerotic risk factors is influenced by age in male workers (12,386 men aged from 20 to 69 years) in Yamagata, a district of Japan.

Methods: The subjects were divided into five age groups, and each group was further divided into three subgroups according to ethanol consumption. The mean levels of each atherosclerotic risk factor were compared among the groups.

Results: Neither body mass index nor fasting blood glucose levels were significantly affected by drinking at any age. In the heavy drinkers (ethanol consumption of 30 g per day or more) in all age groups, blood pressure, serum triglyceride and HDL cholesterol levels were significantly higher and serum LDL cholesterol level and the atherogenic index were significantly lower than in the nondrinkers. In the light drinkers (ethanol consumption of less than 30 g per day) in all age groups, serum HDL cholesterol level and the atherogenic index were also higher and lower, respectively, than in the nondrinkers. However, light drinking significantly increased blood pressure only in the middle aged and relatively elderly groups (40-49, 50-59, 60-69 years of age) and significantly decreased the serum LDL cholesterol level only in relatively young and middle aged groups (30-39, 40-49, 50-59 years of age). Thus, the effects of light drinking on blood pressure and serum LDL cholesterol are dependent on age. The serum triglyceride level was not significantly affected by light drinking in any age group.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that light drinking increases blood pressure in the middle-aged and the elderly but not in the young, while its beneficial effects on serum HDL cholesterol and atherogenic index are not changed with age.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood
  • Alcohol Drinking / physiopathology*
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Lipids / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk Factors
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Lipids
  • Triglycerides