Background The question remains as to whether light to moderate alcohol intake is associated with an increased risk of hypertension.
Methods In 1978, a total of 1101 residents (433 men and 668 women) in a subrural community, Hisayama, in Japan, aged 40 years or more, with normal blood pressure, who were free from cardiovascular disease, were enrolled in a 10-year follow-up study. Inquiries regarding regular drinking were made in an interview based on a self-administered questionnaire.
Results During the follow-up, 101 men and 166 women developed hypertension (blood pressure ≥140/90 mm Hg or use of antihypertensive drugs). The age-adjusted incidence of hypertension among current male drinkers increased significantly even with a light intake of alcohol (<23 g of ethanol per day). In women, the incidence was also significantly higher in drinkers than in nondrinkers. In multivariate analysis, alcohol intake, in addition to age and body mass index, remained a significant independent risk factor for hypertension in men, but not in women. In men, all three categories of current drinking were found to be significant risk factors for the development of hypertension after adjustment for age and body mass index [relative risk (RR), 2.00; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.07–3.76 for light drinking compared with nondrinking; RR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.50–4.49 for moderate drinking (23–45 g per day); and RR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.26–3.99 for heavy drinking (≥46 g/day)].
Conclusions Our results suggest that alcohol intake, even light drinking, is a predictor of future hypertension among Japanese men.