Objective: To analyse the association of alcohol consumption and blood lipids, haemostatic factors, and homocysteine in German adults by gender and age groups.
Design: Cross-sectional population-based survey.
Setting: Data from the German National Health Interview and Examination Survey 1998, representative for age, gender, community size, and federal state.
Subjects: From a sample of 7124 Germans between 18 and 79 y old, 2420 women and 2365 men were selected. Only individuals who were not currently receiving medical treatment or did not have disorders related to cardiovascular disease were selected for this study.
Results: Using analyses of variance, mean blood levels of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, HDL/total cholesterol ratio, total glycerides, fibrinogen, antithrombin III, and homocysteine adjusted for age, socioeconomic status, East/West Germany residence, body mass index, tobacco use, sports activity, and coffee consumption, if appropriate are presented by alcohol consumption groups (0, >0-10, >10-20, >20-30 and >30 g/day). The HDL/total cholesterol ratio increased with higher alcohol groups up to 10-20 g/day (+15%) for women and >30 g/day (+18%) for men, showing the strongest rise among men aged 55-79 y. Fibrinogen decreased with higher alcohol groups up to 10-20 g/day for women and 20-30 g/day for men. Among women, homocysteine levels showed a U-shaped curve with a minimum of 8.49 mmol/l at 10-20 g alcohol/day (-8%, reference: nondrinking), whereas an inverse association was observed for men.
Conclusions: Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with favourable levels of several cardiovascular risk factors. The most favourable cardiovascular risk factor profile among women was observed among those drinking 10-20 g alcohol/day. Beneficial effects seem to be more pronounced among older men.