Research Article

Alcohol consumption and its relation to cardiovascular risk factors in British women.

BMJ 1992; 304 doi: (Published 11 January 1992) Cite this as: BMJ 1992;304:80
  1. G. Razay,
  2. K. W. Heaton,
  3. C. H. Bolton,
  4. A. O. Hughes
  1. University Department of Medicine, Bristol Royal Infirmary.


    OBJECTIVE--To examine the relation between alcohol consumption and risk factors for coronary heart disease in women. DESIGN--Cross sectional study of a stratified random sample of the population grouped into five categories of habitual alcohol consumption. SETTING--People registered with general practitioners at two large health centres in east Bristol, England. SUBJECTS--1048 women aged 25-69 years. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Fasting plasma concentrations of insulin, total cholesterol, total triglycerides, and high density lipoprotein cholesterol, including its subfractions HDL2 and HDL3, and body mass index. RESULTS--Compared with non-drinkers women consuming a moderate amount of alcohol (1-20 g/day) had lower plasma concentrations of triglycerides, by 0.19 mmol/l (95% confidence interval 0.07 to 0.35); cholesterol, by 0.4 mmol/l (0.19 to 0.61); and insulin, by 1.4 mU/l (0.43 to 1.97) and a lower body mass index, by 1.2 kg/m2 (0.43 to 1.97). They also had higher concentrations of high density lipoprotein cholesterol, by 0.09 mmol/l (0.03 to 0.15); HDL2 cholesterol by 0.05 mmol/l (-0.02 to 0.10) and HDL3 cholesterol, by 0.06 mmol/l (0.06 to 0.11). All these were independent of body mass index, smoking habits, and taking oral contraceptives. CONCLUSIONS--Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower levels of cardiovascular risk factors in women. Insulin may have a central role.