Cardiovascular System

Is the “J-Curve” Real?

  

1. J-curve - Lower risk for light to moderate drinkers compared to abstainers

For many decades, epidemiological studies have consistently shown that light-to-moderate  consumers of alcoholic beverages have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a lower risk of death from all causes (including total cancer) compared with non-drinkers or those who drink heavily. It is not limited to alcohol-related causes of death, but instead captures all deaths combined (Brien et al 2011, Ronksley et al 2011, di Castelnuovo et al 2006, Roerecke et al 2012, Ferrari et al 2014, Jayasekara et al 2014, Xi et al 2017, Wood et al 2018, Colpani et al 2018).

  • Such a J-shaped relationship (J-curve) has been shown in many different populations and dozens of observational studies. In different degrees, it is also seen in men and women and with other types of alcoholic beverages.
  • Observational studies cannot prove causality but the observed association is considered biologically plausible (see below). However, there is a scientific debate at which level of consumption the nadir of this curve lies.

 

  • Such a J-shaped relationship (J-curve) has been shown in many different populations and dozens of observational studies. In different degrees, it is also seen in men and women and with other types of alcoholic beverages.
  • Observational studies cannot prove causality but the observed association is considered biologically plausible (see below). However, there is a scientific debate at which level of consumption the nadir of this curve lies.

 

2. Comparison to Smoking

WHO and other institutions have repeatedly declared the risks of alcohol consumption equivalent to smoking. However, no benefit of “moderate smoking” has ever been found.

WHO and other institutions have repeatedly declared the risks of alcohol consumption equivalent to smoking. However, no benefit of “moderate smoking” has ever been found.

 

De Gaetano et al, 2017, Alcohol and health – praise of the J-curve, J Am Coll Cardiology, vol 70, no 8

 

3. J-shape also for other diseases

In addition to CVD and total mortality, a J-shaped curve exists for the risk of other diseases, for example for type-2 diabetes and dementia. 

 

4. Correlation or cause?

Observational studies can only provide statistical associations and present absolute or relative risks of developing certain diseases and cannot be interpreted as a proof of a causal relationship. However, the associations described are biologically plausible: controlled experiments have proven the beneficial physiological effects of light to moderate drinking of wine/alcoholic beverages.

 

Biologically plausible: How does it work?

Effect of alcohol:

  • Improvement of cholesterol levels: „good“ HDL increases, „bad“ LDL decreases
  • Lowering of blood viscosity (blood becomes „thinner“)

Effect of phenolic, non-alcoholic compounds of wine:

  • Improvement of endothelial function
  • Antioxidant effect/scavenger of free radicals

 

5. Wine versus other alcoholic beverages

Light to moderate wine consumption may be more beneficial than consuming other alcoholic beverages. An increasing number of both animal experiments and human trials demonstrate that non-alcoholic substances (polyphenols) in wine provide additional protective effects against risk factors and diseases.

 

6. Influencing factors

Most epidemiological studies have only used the average amount of alcohol consumed (over a week or month) as the measure of exposure, however, other factors play an important role in the health outcome. i.e. Regular moderate consumers of alcoholic beverages had considerable health advantages compared to binge drinkers, even though they consumed on average the same amount.

  • Drinking pattern (moderate, regular vs. binge drinking)
  • Drinking with the meals
  • Alternate wine with water
  • The famous advice of Serge Renaud is: “You drink water, but you sip wine”.

 

7. Underreporting

An important problem of observational studies is “under-reporting” of alcohol intake. This subsequently affects the J-curve. When “under-reporters” are removed from the study analysis, the curve shifts to the right, which means that the lowest risk of moderate drinkers is actually related to a higher amount of alcohol intake and the increased risk starts at a higher dosage.

 

8. Moderate wine consumption within a healthy lifestyle

Light to moderate consumption of wine/alcoholic beverages should be considered only one component of lifestyle factors related to health. The most important aspects are:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Maintain a normal body weight (avoid becoming obese)
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy diet (e.g., a Mediterranean-type diet)
  • Consume alcoholic beverages moderately and regularly with food, unless contraindicated

These lifestyle factors contribute not only to a longer life expectancy but also a longer life free of chronic diseases.

 

9. Sick-quitters

Earlier studies included ex-drinkers in the non-drinking reference/control group that may have artificially increased the risk of disease for “current abstainers”, thus, confounding the J-shaped curve and negating a protective relationship with moderate drinking. However, more recent studies have corrected this flaw and when including only lifetime abstainers in the non-drinking category, a similar J-shaped curve was found and disproved the so called “sick-quitters” hypothesis.

BACKGROUND: Alcohol consumption is a known modifiable risk factor for atrial fibrillation. The association, however, might differ according to gender. We investigated gender-specific associations between alcohol consumption and incident atrial fibrillation in an elderly Chinese population. METHODS: Our study participants were elderly residents (>/= 65 years) recruited from five community health centers in the urban area of Shanghai (n = 6,618). Alcohol intake was classified as never drinkers and current light-to-moderate (< 40 g/day) and heavy drinkers (>/= 40 g/day). Atrial fibrillation was detected by a 30-s single-lead electrocardiography (ECG, AliveCor((R)) Heart Monitor) and further evaluated with a regular 12-lead ECG. RESULTS: During a median of 2.1 years (interquartile range: 2.0-2.2) follow-up, the incidence rate of atrial fibrillation was 1.10%…
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Previous observational studies presented a positive association between alcohol and atrial fibrillation (AF). However, previous studies using genetic polymorphisms on the causal relationship between alcohol consumption and AF have reported conflicting results. This study aimed to evaluate the causality between alcohol consumption and AF using the aldehyde dehydrogenase 2 (ALDH2) rs671 polymorphism, which is the genetic variant with the most potent effect on drinking behavior. METHODS: A total of 8,964 participants from the Dong-gu Study were included in the present study. The causal association between alcohol consumption and AF was evaluated through a Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis using the ALDH2 rs671 polymorphism as an instrumental variable. RESULTS: No significant relationship between alcohol consumption and AF was found…
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: A clear link between excessive alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been established, but no consensus exists on the effects of moderate alcohol consumption on CVD. RECENT FINDINGS: A lower risk of coronary heart disease and myocardial infarction among moderate drinkers compared to abstainers has been consistently observed in epidemiological studies and meta-analyses of these studies. However, ambiguity remains on the effect of alcohol on other CVDs and all-cause mortality. Short-term randomized controlled trials (RCT) have identified potentially beneficial effects of alcohol consumption on cardiovascular risk factors, but studies investigating genetic polymorphisms that influence alcohol consumption (i.e., Mendelian randomization) have yielded inconclusive results. To date, a long-term RCT providing causal evidence is lacking but urgently needed.…
BACKGROUND: Epidemiological studies confirmed that moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a reduced risk of adverse cardiovascular events. It is increasingly recognized that the composition of gut microbiota and metabolites is involved in modulating the cardiovascular health of the host. However, the association of moderate alcohol consumption with serum metabolites and gut microbiome and its impact on coronary artery disease (CAD) is not fully investigated. METHOD: Serum untargeted metabolomics analysis and fecal 16S rRNA sequencing were performed on 72 male patients with CAD having various alcohol consumption (36 non-drinkers, 18 moderate drinkers, and 18 heavy drinkers) and 17 matched healthy controls. MetaboAnalyst and PICRUSt2 were utilized to analyze the possible involved metabolic pathways. Multi-omics analysis was achieved by Spearman correlation…
The consumption of food for pleasure is mainly associated with adverse health effects. This review was carried out to verify recent reports on the impact of chocolate and wine consumption on cardiovascular health, with a particular focus on atherosclerosis. On one side, these products have proven adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, but on the other hand, if consumed in optimal amounts, they have cardiovascular benefits. The submitted data suggest that the beneficial doses are 30-50 g and 130/250 mL for chocolate and wine, respectively, for women and men. The accumulated evidence indicates that the active ingredients in the products under consideration in this review are phenolic compounds, characterized by anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiplatelet properties. However, there are also some…
Page 6 of 82

Disclaimer

The authors have taken reasonable care in ensuring the accuracy of the information herein at the time of publication and are not responsible for any errors or omissions. Read more on our disclaimer and Privacy Policy.