Abdominal fat, a contributor to heart disease risk, is related to alcohol drinking pattern

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- How you drink alcohol -- how often, how much, when and what kind -- can influence the risk of heart disease by affecting the accumulation of abdominal fat, a body characteristic shown to be an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, University at Buffalo epidemiologists have shown.

In their study, published in the August issue of Journal of Nutrition, the researchers report that men and women who drank infrequently but heavily had more abdominal fat or "central adiposity," as measured by abdominal height, than people who consumed the same amount but drank regularly. Abdominal height is the amount that the abdomen extends above the torso when a person lies on his or her back and has been correlated highly with abdominal fat stores.

The type of alcohol consumed appeared to contribute differently to the accumulation of abdominal fat, findings showed. Wine drinkers showed the lowest abdominal height, while liquor drinkers had the highest. Beer as an alcohol source wasn't associated with central adiposity.

In addition, current drinkers, those who had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days, had lower abdominal height than both men and women abstainers.

"Our goal was to find out if the way people drink can affect this known risk factor (abdominal fat accumulation) for heart disease," said Joan Dorn, Ph.D., UB associate professor of social and preventive medicine in the UB School of Public Health and Health Professions and lead author on the study.

"The primary message is that binge drinking is an unhealthy way of consuming alcohol," said Dorn. "These results do not suggest that persons with abdominal fat should start drinking."

Dorn and colleagues conducted the study in 2,343 men and women selected randomly from the general population to serve as healthy controls in the Western New York Health Study, a series of case-control studies that examine alcohol drinking patterns and chronic dise

Contact: Lois Baker
716-645-5000 x1417
University at Buffalo

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