Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) in generally healthy populations. We assessed prospectively the association between moderate alcohol intake and CHD risk in women with type 2 diabetes mellitus, a group at high risk for cardiovascular disease.
We studied women in the Nurses' Health Study who reported a diagnosis of diabetes mellitus at >/=30 years of age. During 39 092 person-years of follow-up from 1980 to 1994, there were 295 CHD events documented among this population, including 194 cases of nonfatal myocardial infarction and 101 cases of fatal CHD. Odds ratios derived from logistic regression were used to estimate relative risks (RRs) for CHD as a function of usual alcohol intake, with adjustment for potential confounders. Compared with diabetic women reporting no alcohol intake, the age-adjusted RR for nonfatal or fatal CHD among diabetic women reporting usual intake of 0.1 to 4.9 g (<0.5 drinks) of alcohol daily was 0.74 (95% CI 0.56 to 0.98), and among those reporting usual intake >/=5 g/d, it was 0.48 (95% CI 0.32 to 0.72) (P for trend <0.0001). Inverse associations between alcohol intake and CHD risk remained significant in multivariate analysis adjusting for several other coronary risk factors (0.1 to 4. 9 g/d: RR 0.72 [95% CI 0.54 to 0.96]; >/=5 g/d: RR 0.45 [0.29 to 0.68]).
Although potential risks of alcohol consumption must be considered, these data suggest that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced CHD risk in women with diabetes and should not be routinely discouraged.