The study found that drinkers in the highest category of intensity have a 60 percent greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome than those in the lowest category.
The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of cardiovascular disease risk factors which include high blood pressure, elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL), impaired fasting glucose and excess abdominal fat. A diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is made if you have three out of five of these risk factors. Having metabolic syndrome increases the risk for cardiovascular disease.
"Lifetime cumulative effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular risk factors comprising the metabolic syndrome have been largely unknown, but our study found that drinking patterns independently predict the risk of metabolic syndrome," said lead author Amy Z. Fan, M.D., Ph.D.
Fan and her co-author Marcia Russell, Ph.D., conducted the study at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Berkeley, Calif. Russell is a senior scientist at the Prevention Research Center, while Fan is a cardiovascular epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga.
"Intensity and frequency of alcohol consumption is important, not just the volume of drinking over a lifetime," said Fan. "It's the historical pattern of drinking that matters."
Russell's research has led to a new way to examine the complex multi-dimensional patterns of drinking over a lifetime. Total volume is the total number of drinks in a lifetime; frequency is the total lifetime drinking days; intensity is volume divided by frequency or drinks per drinking day, averaged over a
Contact: Bridgette McNeill
American Heart Association