Researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, evaluated whether alcohol consumption was prospectively associated with coronary artery disease (CAD) mortality risk independent of familial factors (Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;102(1):31-39).
A total of 843 male twins (396 pairs and 51 unpaired twins) aged 42 to 55 years old without baseline CAD reported beer, wine and spirits consumption at baseline (1969 to 1973) and were followed up to 2010 in the prospective National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Twin Study. Data on usual alcohol consumption over the past year were collected.
There were 129 CAD deaths and 219 cardiovascular deaths during 41 years of follow-up. In the whole cohort, after adjustment for caloric intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, overall hazard ratios per 10-g increment in alcohol intake were 0.94 for CAD and 0.97 for cardiovascular mortality. The within-pair adjusted HRs for a twin with 10-g higher daily alcohol consumption than his co-twin were 0.90 for CAD and 0.95 for CVD mortality in the cohort, which remained similar among monozygotic twins. All three beverage types tended to be associated with lower CAD mortality risk within-pair to a similar degree. Alcohol consumption was not associated with total mortality risk overall or within-pair.
The researchers concluded higher usual alcohol consumption is associated with lower CAD mortality risk, independent of germline and early life environment and adulthood experience shared among twins, supporting a possible causal role of alcohol consumption in lowering CAD death risk.