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Gee, I Could've Had A V8! Or At Least A Stiff Drink

Posted Apr 18 2012 3:00am
When I was growing up (not that I"m not still attempting to do so), I watched variation upon variation of the V8 vegetable juice commercial in which someone drinks a non-V8 beverage and then slaps his forehead and makes the memorable disclaimer.

I bring this up because an analysis of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) was published early online last month in the European Heart Journal concluding that moderate alcohol consumption was linked to lower all-cause & cardiovascular mortality among men who had survived their first heart attack.  The relationship was U-shaped suggesting that no alcohol might be just as bad as excess alcohol consumption.  At the very least, I can imagine the tee-totalers slapping their collective foreheads now that this study is out.
As an extension of yesterday's post , recall that HPFS is a prospective cohort (read observational) study of 51,529 men followed for 20 years during which 1,818 had their first heart attack.  Alcohol consumption was assessed by validated questionnaire every 4 years.  After the usual statistical manipulations, the authors noted that consuming anywhere from 0.1-9.9g/day of alcohol as associated w/22% relative risk reduction in all-cause mortality compared to not consuming any alcohol at all.  Those who consumed 10-29.9g/d could look forward to 34% relative risk reduction while those who consumed 30g/d or more only received 13% relative risk reduction compared to the teetotalers.  Bear in mind that a beer was estimated to have 12.8g alcohol, a glass of wine 11g, and a shot of liquor 14g.
For what it's worth, I noted that smoking appeared to be linked to increase in alcohol consumption.  Regardless, 4 out of 5 men were married, average body mass index as overweight at 26+kg/m2, 2 out of 5 had hypertension, 1 in 2 used aspirin, and 1 in 6 used a lipid lowering agent.  One final point: before you attempt to apply the results of a study, ask yourself how similar are you to the trial participants.  While I could not find age & race details, other articles & analyses have pointed out that most of the men were/are Caucasian who were 40-75yo back in 1986.  So if the demographics fit you and you've survived your first heart attack, think about having that V8 (or glass of wine daily).

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