Background and methods: There is controversy about the association between mild-to-moderate alcohol consumption and a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. The relationships between daily alcohol consumption and the incidence of acute myocardial infarction (MI) or ischemic stroke (IS) were examined in men in a community-based, prospective cohort study (n = 8014, age 40-80 years, mean age = 64.1 years). Alcohol consumption was categorized into 3 groups (A1, none or occasional; A2, ≤25 g/day; A3, >25 g/day as ethanol) at baseline.
Results: During the mean follow-up of 5.5 years, 53 MIs and 186 ISs occurred. On Cox regression analysis adjusted for age, hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, smoking index, and body mass index (BMI), the hazard ratio (HR) for incident MI was significantly lower in the A2 group than in the A1 group (HR = 0.49, p = 0.043). The HR for incident MI in the A3 group tended to be lower than in the A1 group (HR = 0.53, p = 0.10). In obese subjects, while a significantly lower HR for incident MI in the A2 group was retained (HR = 0.29, p = 0.049), no significant difference in the HR of the A3 group compared with the A1 group was found. No significant differences were found in the IS-free curve among the 3 groups of alcohol consumption.
Conclusions: Alcohol consumption may have a protective effect on the onset of MI but not on IS in the general population. A U-shaped relation between alcohol consumption and incident MI was found in obese subjects. An appropriate limit for daily alcohol consumption, depending on the risk of ischemic heart disease, may need to be established.
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