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Effect of moderate alcohol consumption on Lp(a) lipoprotein concentrations

BMJ 1998; 316 doi: (Published 30 May 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;316:1675

Reduction is supported by other studies

  1. Peter C Sharpe, Senior registrar in clinical biochemistry,
  2. Ian S Young, Consultant in clinical biochemistry,
  3. Alun E Evans, Professor of epidemiology
  1. Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Queens University of Belfast and Royal Hospitals Trust, Belfast BT12 6BA
  2. Division of Epidemiology, Queen's University of Belfast
  3. University of New South Wales, Lipid Research Department, St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, NSW 2010, Australia
  4. Department of Community and Family Medicine, Jichi Medical School, Minamikawachi, Kawachi, Tochigi, Japan

    EDITOR—We agree with Paassilta et al that there may be a relation between moderate alcohol consumption and lower Lp(a) lipoprotein concentrations.1 The relation between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular mortality is U shaped, with the lowest mortality at an alcohol consumption of 2–4 units (16-32 g) a day.2 Several mechanisms contribute to this cardioprotective effect including beneficial increases in high density lipoprotein cholesterol3 and inhibition of platelet aggregation.4 However, other factors may be involved. Lp(a) lipoprotein is a recognised independent risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis and, as stated by Paassilta et al, little attention has been directed to the effects of alcohol on Lp(a) lipoprotein.

    In 1995 we reported a significant reduction in Lp(a) lipoprotein concentration in a prospective study of 20 healthy volunteers (men and women) given 21 g of alcohol daily for 10 days in the form of red wine (median (range) 186 (15–1420) mg/l v 132 (10–1210) mg/l, P<0.001).5 This reduction was not repeated when the same subjects were given white wine, raising the issue of potential differences between various alcoholic drinks. Interestingly, we found no changes in high density lipoprotein cholesterol …

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