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Consumption of alcohol and cardiovascular disease mortality: a 16 year follow-up of 115,592 Norwegian men and women aged 40–44 years


We tested whether teetotalism explains the upturn in cardiovascular risk for non-drinkers and whether wine is a more favorable alcohol type. We studied 115,592 men and women aged 40–44 years who participated in the age 40 program in Norway in 1994–1999 and were followed for an average of 16 years with 550 cardiovascular deaths. Self-reported number of glasses of beer, wine and spirits during 14 days was transformed to alcohol units/day. One unit is approximately 8 grams of pure alcohol. The mean and median number of alcohol units/day were 0.70 and 0.46. Teetotallers had higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease than alcohol consumers, multivariate adjusted hazard ratio (95% CI) 1.97 (1.52–2.56). The use of alcohol-related deaths as endpoint substantiated a selection of previous alcohol users to the teetotal group. Without teetotallers there was no association between alcohol consumption and cardiovascular disease mortality. However, the multivariate adjusted hazard ratio per one unit/day of wine was 0.76 (0.58–0.99). The corresponding figures for beer and spirits were 1.04 (0.94–1.15) and 0.98 (0.75–1.29). The upturn in risk for non-drinkers could be explained by a higher risk for teetotallers who likely included previous alcohol users or teetotalers who started to drink during follow-up. Wine gave the most favorable risk estimates.

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Authors and Affiliations



AT: study concept, design and drafting the manuscript. RS: acquisition of data, interpretation of data and critical revision of the article for important intellectual content and final approval of the article. All authors: interpretation of data and critical revision of the article for important intellectual content and final approval of the article.

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Correspondence to Aage Tverdal.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by Regional Committees for Medical and Health Research Ethics and The Norwegian Data Protection Authority.

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Tverdal, A., Magnus, P., Selmer, R. et al. Consumption of alcohol and cardiovascular disease mortality: a 16 year follow-up of 115,592 Norwegian men and women aged 40–44 years. Eur J Epidemiol 32, 775–783 (2017).

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  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Spirits
  • Risk factors