Is alcohol good or bad for Canadian hearts? A time-series analysis of the link between alcohol consumption and IHD mortality


Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 16 34 08; Fax: +46 8 674 76 86; E-mail:


The objective of this study was to analyse the population level association between alcohol consumption and ischaemic heart disease (IHD) mortality in Canada. Yearly changes in IHD mortality rates from 1950 to 1998 were analysed in relation to yearly changes in alcohol consumption, employing the Box & Jenkins technique for time-series analyses. All models controlled for cigarette smoking and one analysis with focus on men also included female IHD mortality as an indicator of other risk factors for IHD. A 1-litre increase in per capita alcohol consumption was associated with an increase in overall IHD mortality as well as among men and women with fully 1%, but no estimate reached statistical significance. A positive and significant relationship between smoking and IHD mortality was demonstrated in all models. According to the model with focus on male IHD mortality, an increase in per capita consumption by 1 litre was related significantly to a 1% increase in male IHD mortality. No significant effects were found in different male age groups. The idea that alcohol saves more IHD deaths than it causes in Canada is not in accordance with these findings. An increase in overall alcohol consumption is more likely to cause an increase in IHD mortality than to lower the number of IHD deaths, at least among men.