Higher Usual Alcohol Consumption Was Associated with a Lower 41-Y Mortality Risk from Coronary Artery Disease in Men Independent of Genetic and Common Environmental Factors: The Prospective NHLBI Twin Study


Dai, J., Mukamal, K. J., Krasnow, R. E., Swan, G. E., & Reed, T. (2015). Higher usual alcohol consumption was associated with a lower 41-y mortality risk from coronary artery disease in men independent of genetic and common environmental factors: the prospective NHLBI Twin Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(1), 31-39. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.106435



Evidence that alcohol consumption is inversely associated with long-term coronary artery disease (CAD) mortality independent of genetic and early life environmental factors is lacking.


We evaluated whether alcohol consumption was prospectively associated with CAD mortality risk independent of familial factors.


In total, 843 male twins (396 pairs and 51 unpaired twins) aged 42-55 y (mean: 48 y) without baseline CAD reported beer, wine, and spirits consumption at baseline (1969-1973) and were followed up to 2010 in the prospective National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Twin Study. Data on usual alcohol consumption over the past year were collected. Outcome was time to event, where the primary event was death from CAD and secondary events were death from cardiovascular disease and all causes. HRs were estimated by using frailty survival models, both overall and within-pair.


There were 129 CAD deaths and 219 cardiovascular deaths during 41 y of follow-up. In the whole cohort, after adjustment for caloric intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors, overall HRs per 10-g increment in alcohol intake were 0.94 (95% CI: 0.89, 0.98) for CAD and 0.97 (95% CI: 0.93, 1.00) for cardiovascular mortality. The within-pair adjusted HRs for a twin with 10-g higher daily alcohol consumption than his co-twin were 0.90 (95% CI: 0.84, 0.97) for CAD and 0.95 (95% CI: 0.90, 1.00) for cardiovascular disease mortality in the cohort pooled by zygosity, which remained similar among monozygotic twins. All 3 beverage types tended to be associated with lower CAD mortality risk within-pair to a similar degree. Alcohol consumption was not associated with total mortality risk overall or within-pair.


Higher usual alcohol consumption is associated with lower CAD mortality risk, independent of germline and early life environment and adulthood experience shared among twins, supporting a possible causal role of alcohol consumption in lowering CAD death risk. This trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT00005124

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