Background and aims: A protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption on the cardiovascular system has consistently been reported, but limited evidence has been produced on the association of alcohol with metabolic factors in the elderly. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between different levels of current alcohol consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in a representative sample of elderly Italian men, mainly wine drinkers.
Methods and results: This is a cross-sectional multi-centre study on a population-based sample of Italian men aged 65-84 years, drawn from the Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA) cohort. The analyses included 1896 men. Almost all the drinkers (98%) drank wine as a lifelong habit. Adjusted ORs for risk levels for cardiovascular factors (BMI, waist circumference, fibrinogen, α2 protein, white blood cells, HDL cholesterol, Apo A-I, total cholesterol, Apo B-I, triglycerides, LDL, glycated hemoglobin, insulin, fasting plasma glucose, HOMA IR, systolic and diastolic blood pressure) were estimated, comparing drinkers with teetotalers using multivariate logistic regression models. We found alcohol consumption in older age associated with healthier hematological values of fibrinogen, HDL cholesterol, Apo A-I lipoprotein and insulin, but it was also associated with a worse hematological picture of total, LDL cholesterol levels, and systolic pressure.
Conclusion: Our results indicated in elderly moderate wine drinkers a noticeably safe metabolic, inflammatory and glycemic profile that might balance higher blood pressure, leading to a net benefit. These findings however need to be placed in relation to the known adverse social and health effects of heavy drinking.
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