The association of alcohol consumption with coronary heart disease mortality and cancer incidence varies by smoking history

Jon O. Ebbert, Carol A. Janney, Thomas A. Sellers, Aaron R. Folsom, James R. Cerhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effect of alcohol on coronary heart disease (CHD), cancer incidence, and cancer mortality by smoking history. DESIGN/SETTING: A prospective, general community cohort was established with a baseline mailed questionnaire completed in 1986. PARTICIPANTS: A population-based sample of 41,836 Iowa women aged 55-69 years. MEASUREMENTS: Mortality (total, cancer, and CHD) and cancer incidence outcomes were collected through 1999. Relative hazard rates (HR) were calculated using Cox regression analyses. MAIN RESULTS: Among never smokers, alcohol consumption (≥ 14 g/day vs none) was inversely associated with age-adjusted CHD mortality (HR, 0.40; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.19 to 0.84) and total mortality (HR, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.55 to 0.92). Among former smokers, alcohol consumption was also inversely associated with CHD mortality (HR, 0.45: 95% CI, 0.23 to 0.88) and total mortality (HR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.97). but was positively associated with cancer incidence (HR, 1.25; 95% Ci, 1.03 to 1.51). Among current smokers, alcohol consumption was not associated with CHD mortality (HR, 1.05; 95% CI, 0.73 to 1.50) or total mortality (HR, 1.07; 95% CI, 0.92 to 1.25). but was positively associated with cancer incidence (HR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.10 to 1.54). CONCLUSIONS: Health behavior counseling regarding alcohol consumption for cardioprotection should include a discussion of the lack of a decreased risk of CHD mortality for current smokers and the increased cancer risk among former and current smokers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-20
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of general internal medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005



  • Coronary disease
  • Ethanol
  • Mortality
  • Neoplasms
  • Smoking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine

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