The drinking day as a unit of exposure in the epidemiology of alcohol-related medical disorders

Alcohol. 1998 Oct;16(3):231-6. doi: 10.1016/s0741-8329(98)00007-x.


Tissue or organ system damage resulting from alcohol ingestion typically requires several years of heavy drinking to reach clinical significance. Based upon earlier empirical findings and theorizing, we hypothesized that the lifetime number of exposures (drinking days) may be of significance in understanding the relationship between chronic alcohol consumption and organ system perturbations in alcoholic populations. To test this hypothesis, detailed lifetime alcohol consumption histories from a racially mixed cohort of detoxified alcoholics (n = 253) and nonalcoholics (n = 61) were examined to determine the lifetime total number of drinking days. Linear regressions corrected for lifetime total dose and pertinent confounding variables yielded statistically significant correlations of moderate size of the number of lifetime alcohol drinking days with diastolic blood pressure and quadriceps muscle strength. The findings were considered to provide evidence that an alcohol exposure (drinking day), independent of dose, is a biologically significant event in the genesis of tissue toxicities in the cohorts studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Continental Ancestry Group
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / trends*
  • Alcoholism / epidemiology*
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cohort Studies
  • European Continental Ancestry Group
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscles / drug effects
  • Time Factors