The association between alcohol consumption and mortality: The Swedish women's lifestyle and health study

Gundula Behrens, Michael F. Leitzmann, Sven Sandin, Marie Löf, Iris M. Heid, Hans Olov Adami, Elisabete Weiderpass

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17 Scopus citations


Although light to moderate alcohol intake may reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality, the effect on total mortality requires further study, particularly among young and middle-aged women. We studied the association between alcohol consumption and mortality from all causes, from cancer, and from CVD in the Swedish Women's Lifestyle and Health Study, a cohort of 47,921 female residents of Sweden aged 30-49 years at baseline in 1991/1992 and followed up to 2006. We estimated the relative risk (RR) of mortality associated with alcohol intake using Cox regression adjusted for age, smoking, BMI, saturated fat intake, physical activity, and education. During 713,295 person-years of follow-up, 1,119 deaths occurred, including 158 deaths from CVD, 673 deaths from cancer, and 288 deaths from other causes. Compared with non-drinking, light to moderate drinking (0.1-19.9 g of alcohol per day) showed a statistically significant inverse association with total mortality (RR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.71-0.98). Analyses of cause-specific mortality revealed an RR for CVD mortality of 0.69 (95% CI = 0.46-1.01) and an RR for cancer mortality of 0.92 (95% CI = 0.75-1.15). These results suggest that in younger women, a possibly beneficial effect of light to moderate drinking on future risk of mortality is limited to a prevention of CVD mortality but not cancer mortality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-90
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Cohort study
  • Mortality
  • Women's health


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