Alcohol consumption shows a U-shaped relation with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. To determine whether a similar relation exists between alcohol and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality, we analyzed data on alcohol consumption in 1970 and 20-year mortality from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease among 2,953 middle-aged men from Finland, Italy, and the Netherlands. We also studied alcohol consumption in relation to pulmonary function (FEV 1 or FEV 0.75) at baseline. We used regression models adjusted for age, height (for pulmonary function only), body mass index, smoking habits, energy intake, and country. A smoothed spline-plot showed a U-shaped relation between alcohol and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality. Compared with non-drinkers and occasional drinkers, the relative risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality was 0.60 (95% CI = 0.33-1.09) in light drinkers (>1 drink per week, ≤3 drinks per day) and 1.25 (95% CI = 0.47-3.31) in moderate-to-heavy drinkers. Pulmonary function was lower in non-drinkers compared with occasional and light drinkers in Finland (75 ml, 95% CI = -2 to 151) and the Netherlands (93 ml, 95% CI = 0-186) and lower in very heavy (>12 drinks per day) compared with moderate-to-heavy drinkers in Italy (99 ml, 95% CI = 9-189). In conclusion, we observed a U-shaped curve between alcohol consumption and 20-year chronic obstructive pulmonary disease mortality in middle-aged men that was supported by cross-sectional data on alcohol and pulmonary function.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Tabak, C., Smit, H., Räsänen, L., Fidanza, F., Menotti, A., Nissinen, A., … Kromhout, D. (2001). Alcohol consumption in relation to 20-year COPD mortality and pulmonary function in middle-aged men from three European countries. Epidemiology, 12(2), 239–245. doi:10.1097/00001648-200103000-00018