Alcohol Consumption and Common Carotid Intima-Media Thickness: The USE-IMT Study
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Aims: Epidemiological evidence indicates a protective effect of light to moderate alcohol consumption compared to non-drinking and heavy drinking. Although several mechanisms have been suggested, the effect of alcohol on atherosclerotic changes in vessel walls is unclear. Therefore, we explored the relationship between alcohol consumption and common carotid intima media thickness, a marker of early atherosclerosis in the general population. Methods: Individual participant data from eight cohorts, involving 37,494 individuals from the USE-IMT collaboration were used. Multilevel age and sex adjusted linear regression models were applied to estimate mean differences in common carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT) with alcohol consumption. Results: The mean age was 57.9 years (SD 8.6) and the mean CIMT was 0.75 mm (SD 0.177). About, 40.5% reported no alcohol consumed, and among those who drank, mean consumption was 13.3 g per day (SD 16.4). Those consuming no alcohol or a very small amount (<5 g per day) had significantly lower common CIMT values than those consuming >10 g per day, after adjusting for a range of confounding factors. Conclusion: In this large CIMT consortium, we did not find evidence to support a protective effect of alcohol on CIMT.