Background: Decreased low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in chronic
alcoholics is well known. However, the importance of light to moderate alco
hol consumption is less certain.
Methods: We investigated the association of alcohol intake with risk for in
creased LDL cholesterol over 5 years in a cohort of 933 Japanese male offic
e workers aged 35 to 54 years who had LDL cholesterol levels less than 140
mg/dl and were not taking medication for dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabet
es, liver disease, or hyperuricemia at study entry. Incident-increased LDL
cholesterol was defined by an LDL cholesterol level of 140 mg/dl or more or
use of medication for dyslipidemia. Each individual's slope for LDL choles
terol was also calculated with a simple linear regression model.
Results: Three hundred twenty-one men developed increased LDL cholesterol d
uring 3785 person-years of follow-up. After controlling for potential predi
ctors of increased LDL cholesterol, the relative risk for increased LDL cho
lesterol compared with nondrinkers was 0.89 for those who drank 0.1 to 22.9
g/day of ethanol, 0.74 for those who drank 23.0 to 45.9 g/day of ethanol,
0.64 for those who drank 46.0 to 59.9 g/day of ethanol, and 0.54 for those
who drank 69.0 g/day or more of ethanol (p < 0.001). Slopes of LDL choleste
rol level decreased significantly as alcohol intake increased. From multipl
e linear regression analyses, alcohol intake remained as an independent neg
ative factor for slopes of LDL cholesterol level.
Conclusions: Alcohol intake is negatively associated with development of in
creased LDL cholesterol in middle-aged Japanese men.