Background: The prevalence of alcohol intake is increasing among women in some populations. Alcohol consumption plays an important role in the risk of major cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality. Here, we conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the association between alcohol intake and major cardiovascular outcomes or total mortality in women compared with men.
Methods: We searched the PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases for relevant articles published prior to June 2014. Among these potential included prospective studies, the different dose categories of alcohol intake were compared with the lowest alcohol intake or non-drinkers between women and men for the outcomes of major cardiovascular or total mortality.
Results: We included 23 prospective studies (18 cohorts) reporting data on 489,696 individuals. The summary relative risk ratio (RRR; female to male) for total mortality was significantly increased with moderate alcohol intake compared with the lowest alcohol intake (RRR, 1.10; 95 % confidence interval [CI]: 1.00-1.21; P = 0.047); no such significance was observed with other levels of alcohol intake (low intake: RRR, 1.07; 95 % CI: 0.98-1.17; P = 0.143; heavy intake: RRR, 1.09; 95 % CI: 0.99-1.21; P = 0.084). There was no evidence of a sex difference in the relative risk for coronary disease, cardiac death, stroke, or ischemic stroke between participants with low to heavy alcohol intake compared with those who never consumed alcohol or had the lowest alcohol intake.
Conclusions: Women with moderate to heavy alcohol intake had a significantly increased risk of total mortality compared with men in multiple subpopulations. Control of alcohol intake should be considered for women, particularly for young women who may be susceptible to binge drinking.