Lifestyle factors and varicose veins: does cross-sectional design result in underestimate of the risk?

Phlebology. 2010 Aug;25(4):201-6. doi: 10.1258/phleb.2009.009031.


Objectives: To assess whether smoking, alcohol drinking and dietary factors are linked with varicose veins.

Methods: A middle-aged general population of 4903 was studied, and prevalence rates at entry and five-year incidence of varicose veins were assessed. Lifestyle habits were recorded at entry and at the end of the follow-up.

Results: New varicose veins were significantly more common in individuals with regular alcohol intake, incidence odds ratio (OR) 1.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.05-2.3) in a multivariate analysis (of 2202 individuals). The association was particularly strong in women. Smokers had a higher incidence of varicose veins compared with non-smokers, OR 1.3 (95% CI: 0.9-1.8), but without statistical significance. Having daily meals of meat implied less new varicose veins than having 0-2 weekly meals of meat.

Conclusion: Alcohol was likely to increase the risk of varicose veins in women and smoking in both genders. These findings were seen in the follow-up design, but not when the data of these risk factors were compared with varicose veins prevalent at entry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Varicose Veins / epidemiology*