July 11, 2008

Alcohol Impacts Men, Women Differently

An amount of alcohol that may be beneficial for men may not be good for women, Japanese researchers said.

Study co-author Dr. Hiroyasu Iso of Osaka University in Japan analyzed data from a survey of 34,776 men and 48,906 women ages 40 to 79. Participants completed questionnaires about their lifestyles, medical histories and alcohol consumption.

Researchers calculated the risks and benefits of alcohol consumption after adjusting for age and several other risk factors, including smoking, weight, body mass index, the presence of high blood pressure or diabetes, exercise habits, stress, education and diet.

During a 14.2-year follow-up, 1,628 participants died from stroke and 736 died from heart disease.

Men who reported drinking heavily -- four or more standard alcoholic beverages per day-- had a 19 percent lower risk of dying from coronary heart disease than non-drinking men. In contrast, women who drank that much quadrupled their risk of heart disease death over that of non-drinking women.

Light drinking -- about two drinks a day -- reported on the survey was associated with a lower risk of heart disease death in women by 17 percent, while intake between two drinks to four drinks per day was associated with an increased risk of 45 percent.