Objectives: High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol is known to be positively related to moderate alcohol consumption from studies in selected populations. This study describes the association in a representative sample of the US adult population.
Methods: Stratification and multivariate regression analyses were used to examine HDL cholesterol levels and alcohol consumption.
Results: Fewer women than men reported consumption of alcohol at any frequency. Similar percentages of Whites and Blacks reported alcohol consumption. Age-adjusted mean HDL cholesterol levels were higher among alcohol drinkers than among nondrinkers in all sex-race strata. Mean HDL cholesterol levels of Whites and Blacks of both sexes increased consistently with increased frequency of consumption of beer, wine, and liquor. With age, education, body mass index, smoking, and physical activity controlled for, there were higher age-adjusted HDL cholesterol levels with increasing reported quantities of alcohol consumed. Daily or weekly use of alcohol led to an increase of 5.1 mg/dL in mean HDL cholesterol level, whereas consumption of 1 g of alcohol led to an increase of 0.87 mg/dL.
Conclusion: Even if there is a causal association between alcohol consumption and higher HDL cholesterol levels, it is suggested that efforts to reduce coronary heart disease risks concentrate on the cessation of smoking and weight control.