Objectives: We investigated Black-White differences in the association between average alcohol drinking patterns and all-cause mortality.
Methods: We pooled nationally representative samples of 152 180 adults in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997 to 2002 with mortality follow-up through 2006. Usual drinking days per week and level of alcohol consumed per day were based on self-report. We used race- and gender-specific Cox proportional hazards regression analyses to adjust for physical activity, smoking status, and other potential confounders.
Results: Over 9 years, 13 366 deaths occurred from all causes. For men, the lowest multivariable-adjusted hazard ratio (HR) for total mortality among drinkers was 0.81 among White men who consumed 1 to 2 drinks 3 to 7 days per week (compared with abstainers) and Black men who abstained. For women, the lowest mortality risk was among White women (HR = 0.71) consuming 1 drink per day 3 to 7 days per week and Black women (HR = 0.72) consuming 1 drink on 2 or fewer days per week.
Conclusions: Risks and benefits of alcohol consumption in relation to mortality risk were dependent on race- and gender-specific drinking patterns.