Background: Moderate alcohol consumption decreases the risk of coronary heart disease, but its relation to peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is uncertain.
Methods and results: In the Physicians' Health Study, a randomized trial of the use of aspirin and beta-carotene in 22071 apparently healthy men, we documented 433 incident cases of PAD during 11 years of follow-up. After we controlled for age and treatment assignment, daily drinkers (> or = 7 drinks per week) had a relative risk (RR) of PAD of 0.92 (95% confidence interval, 0.72 to 1.17) compared with the reference group (< 1 drink per week). After additional control for smoking, however, the RR was 0.68 (0.52 to 0.89). Further control for exercise, diabetes mellitus, and parental history of myocardial infarction revealed an RR of 0.74 (0.57 to 0.97).
Conclusions: Moderate alcohol consumption appears to decrease the risk of PAD in apparently healthy men.