alcohol consumption, Harvard Medical, harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Health & Wellness, study on alcohol consumption, The American Journal of Public Health -

New Study Says Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Not Have Health Benefits Among Black People

alcohol consumption, Harvard Medical, harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Health & Wellness, study on alcohol consumption, The American Journal of Public Health -

New Study Says Moderate Alcohol Consumption May Not Have Health Benefits Among Black People

whiskey-and-iceA new study says moderate alcohol consumption, thought to have health benefits for all, may not have the same protective properties in African Americans.

Previous research has found an association between moderate drinking and lowered risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and premature mortality, but those studies were conducted among mostly white populations, and some studies have suggested that Blacks may not experience similar risk reduction.

“Current dietary guidelines recommend moderate consumption for adult Americans who consume alcoholic beverages. Our study suggests that additional refinements based on race/ethnicity may be necessary,” said Chandra Jackson, research associate in Harvard’s T.H. School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, an associate in clinical and translational research at Harvard Medical, and lead author of the study published in The American Journal of Public Health.

The new study looked at data from 152,180 adults—25,811 Blacks and 126,369 whites—in the National Health Interview Survey from 1997–2002, with follow-up through 2006 to account for deaths. Study participants reported on how much alcohol they drank and how often; on sociodemographic characteristics such as education, employment and income; on other health behaviors such as smoking status; and on their health. Researchers also looked at lack of “social integration” into society, such as living in poverty or being unemployed.

Consistent with previous literature, the results showed that 13 percent of white men and 24 percent of Black men said they never drank. Among women, 23 percent of white women and 42 percent of Black women reported never drinking.

When the researchers looked at the relationship between drinking alcohol and mortality, they found that it varied by both race and gender. For men, the lowest risk of mortality was among white men who consumed one to two drinks, three to seven days per week and among Black men who didn’t drink at all. For women, the lowest risk of mortality was among white women consuming one drink per day three to seven days per week, and among Black women who consumed one drink on two or fewer days per week.

Given the findings, the authors suggested further research into other factors that might be involved in the connection between alcohol and mortality risk, such as lifestyle related to diet, physical activity, sleep, youthful experimentation vs. coping with hardships; socioeconomic status and other markers of social integration; differences in physical, chemical, and social exposures in both occupational and residential environments; genetic differences; and gender differences.


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