Association between alcohol consumption and carotid intima-media thickness in a healthy population: data of the STRATEGY study (Stress, Atherosclerosis and ECG Study)

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Background/Objectives:Epidemiological evidence suggests a protective effect of moderate alcohol consumption on cardiovascular events. However, studies assessing the association between alcohol intake and intima-media thickness (IMT) as a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis have provided inconsistent results. The aim of this analysis of the Stress Atherosclerosis and ECG Study (STRATEGY study) was to investigate the relation between alcohol intake and IMT in a selectively healthy population.Subjects/Methods:In a cross-sectional study, laboratory values, anthropometric data, nutrition habits and physical activity were assessed in 106 men and 107 women, evenly distributed between 30 and 70 years. Carotid IMT was determined by B-mode ultrasonography according to the standardized protocol of the Study of Health in Pomerania.Results:In men, a significant positive correlation between daily alcohol consumption and IMT was observed (P<0.0001), whereas in women the positive correlation was not significant. The type of beverage consumed did not affect this finding. The mean IMT was significantly higher in men with an alcohol intake above the upper limit of 20 g/day than in men with an alcohol intake <20 g/day (P<0.001). According to a stepwise linear regression model adjusted for age, conventional risk factors, nutrition and physical activity, the IMT increases by 0.0253mm per 21.4 g/day intake of alcohol in men (P<0.05).Conclusions:The STRATEGY study revealed a positive association between alcohol consumption and carotid IMT in healthy men aged 30–70 years. This relationship remained significant after adjustment for nutrition, physical activity, anthropometry and conventional cardiovascular risk factors.

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