The effects of wine and other alcoholic beverages on coronary heart disease (CHD) have seldom been studied in several countries using a common methodology.
Five-year prospective study conducted among 9750 men (7352 in France and 2398 in Northern Ireland) free of CHD at entry. Outcomes were angina pectoris, myocardial infarction or CHD death.
In all, 90% of subjects in France reported drinking at least once per week, versus 61% in Northern Ireland. In France, after adjusting for other CHD risk factors, subjects in the highest quartile of alcohol consumption had a significantly lower risk of developing angina pectoris relative to non-drinkers. For myocardial infarction and all CHD events, the risk also decreased from the first to the fourth quartile (P for trend=0.02). Conversely, in Northern Ireland, no significant relationship was found between alcohol consumption and the incidence of angina pectoris or all CHD events, although alcohol consumption appeared to decrease the risk for myocardial infarction. Similar findings were obtained when the 5% higher alcohol consumers were excluded from the analysis. Finally, splitting the alcohol consumption into wine, beer and spirits did not improve the relationships, the three types of beverage exerting comparable effects on CHD events.
Alcohol consumption patterns exert differential effects on CHD risk in middle-aged men from France and Northern Ireland. Further, the amount of alcohol consumption, rather than the type of alcoholic beverage, is related to both angina pectoris and myocardial infarction in France, whereas no relationship was found in Northern Ireland.