Alcohol and coronary heart disease.Trends Cardiovasc Med 1996; 6(6):175-8TC
The consumption of alcohol and its impact on health have been of great interest to researchers for many years, but remains complex for several reasons. First, with the exception of violent deaths attributable to intoxication, risks and benefits of alcohol consumption are likely to accrue over years or even decades. Second, quantitative assessment of drinking is generally based on self-report, and this may lead to some degree of misclassification. Third, drinking habits change over time, and thus, it may be important to update drinking habits periodically during any prospective study. Fourth, consumption of alcoholic beverages tends to be imbedded in cultural practices and associated with a number of lifestyle factors. For example, age, sex, race, smoking, ethnic background, and education are related to alcohol intake and may confound relationships with disease. Fifth, alcohol is derived from a number of different beverages whose other components may increase or decrease risk of disease aside from, or in addition to, the specific effect of ethanol. In addition, most studies tend to take into account average daily intake, disregarding issues of how or when the alcoholic beverage was consumed. For example, southern Europeans tend to drink wine with meals, while northern Europeans tend to drink distilled spirits, often at times other than mealtime. The risks and benefits of alcohol consumption certainly seem to be quite different for an individual who consumes seven beers on a Saturday night compared with an individual who consumes a half of a glass of wine with lunch and dinner every day, despite the obvious similarities in average weekly consumption. Finally, the precise mechanisms by which alcohol raises or lowers risks of various disease are only now beginning to be understood. (Trends Cardiovasc Med 1996;6:175-178).