Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
. 2012 Nov 7;12:954.
doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-954.

A Longitudinal Assessment of Alcohol Intake and Incident Depression: The SUN Project

Free PMC article

A Longitudinal Assessment of Alcohol Intake and Incident Depression: The SUN Project

Alfredo Gea et al. BMC Public Health. .
Free PMC article


Background: Longitudinal studies assessing the long-term association between alcohol intake and depression are scarce. The type of beverage may also be important. Therefore we aimed to prospectively evaluate the influence of alcohol intake on incident depression in a Mediterranean cohort.

Methods: We assessed 13,619 university graduates (mean age: 38 years, 42% men) participating in a Spanish prospective epidemiological cohort (the SUN Project), initially free of depression. They were recruited between 1999-2008 and biennially followed-up during 2001-2010. At baseline, a 136-item validated food-frequency questionnaire was used to assess alcohol intake. Wine was the preferred beverage. Participants were classified as incident cases of depression if they reported a new clinical diagnosis of depression by a physician and/or initiated the use of antidepressant drugs. Cox regression and restricted cubic splines analyses were performed over 82,926 person-years.

Results: Only among women, an U-shaped relationship between total alcohol intake and depression risk was found (P=0.01). Moderate alcohol intake (5-15 g/day) was associated with lower risk (Hazard Ratio: 0.62; 95% Confidence Interval: 0.43-0.89). No association was apparent for higher intakes of alcohol or for any specific type of alcoholic beverage.

Conclusions: Moderate alcohol intake might protect against depression among women. Further confirmatory studies are needed.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Flow chart of participants: the SUN project.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Association between alcohol intake (g/day) and depression risk among women (HR and 95% CI). Black line represents the HR and the pointed-lines represent the 95% confidence interval. Adjusted for age, smoking, physical activity (MET-h/week), total energy intake (Kcal/day), baseline body mass index (kg/m2), adherence to the MDP, marital status, and employment status.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 11 articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Patten SB. Accumulation of major depressive episodes over time in a prospective study indicates that retrospectively assessed lifetime prevalence estimates are too low. BMC Psychiatry. 2009;9:19. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-9-19. - DOI - PMC - PubMed
    1. Kessler RC, Angermeyer M, Anthony JC, DE Graaf R, Demyttenaere K, Gasquet I, DE Girolamo G, Gluzman S, Gureje O, Haro JM, Kawakami N, Karam A, Levinson D, Medina Mora ME, Oakley Browne MA, Posada-Villa J, Stein DJ, Adley Tsang CH, Aguilar-Gaxiola S, Alonso J, Lee S, Heeringa S, Pennell BE, Berglund P, Gruber MJ, Petukhova M, Chatterji S, Ustün TB. Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of mental disorders in the World Health Organization's World Mental Health Survey Initiative. World Psychiatry. 2007;6:168–176. - PMC - PubMed
    1. WHO Regional Office for Europe. Global Burden of Disease: 2004. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2008.
    1. World Health Organization. Global Status Report on alcohol and health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2011.
    1. Sullivan LE, Fiellin DA, O'Connor PG. The prevalence and impact of alcohol problems in major depression: a systematic review. Am J Med. 2005;118:330–341. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2005.01.007. - DOI - PubMed

Publication types