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J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2012;14:792–798. ©2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Heavy alcohol intake increases the risk of hypertension, but the relationship between light to moderate alcohol consumption and incident hypertension remains controversial. The authors sought to analyze the dose-response relationship between average daily alcohol consumption and the risk of hypertension via systematic review and meta-analysis. Electronic databases were searched for prospective control studies examining quantitative measurement of alcohol consumption and biological measurement of outcome. The primary endpoint was the risk of developing hypertension based on alcohol consumption. The level of alcohol consumption from each study was assigned to categorical groups based on the midpoint of their alcohol consumption classes to make possible the comparison of heterogeneous classification of alcohol intake. A total of 16 prospective studies (33,904 men and 193,752 women) were included in the analysis. Compared with nondrinkers, men with alcohol consumption with <10 g/d and 11 to 20 g/d had a trend toward increased risk of hypertension (relative risk [RR], 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.94–1.13; P=.51) and (RR, 1.15; 95% CI, 0.99–1.33; P=.06), respectively, whereas a significantly increased risk of hypertension was found with heavy alcohol consumption of 31 to 40 g/d (RR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.39–2.26; P<.001) and >50 g/d (RR, 1.61; 95% CI, 1.38–1.87; P<.001). Among women, the meta-analysis indicated protective effects at <10 g/d (RR, 0.87; 95% CI, 0.82–0.92; P<.001) and a trend toward decreased risk of hypertension with alcohol consumption 11 to 20 g/d (RR, 0.9; 95% CI, 0.87–1.04; P=.17), whereas a significantly increased risk of hypertension was indicated with heavy alcohol consumption of 21 to 30 g/d (RR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.91–1.46; P=.23) and 31 to 40 g/d (RR, 1.19; 95% CI, 1.07–1.32; P=.002). In men, heavy alcohol consumption is associated with increased risk of hypertension, whereas there is a trend toward increased risk of hypertension with low and moderate alcohol consumption. The relationship between alcohol consumption and hypertension is J-shaped in women. Limiting alcohol intake should be advised for both men and women.