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Alcohol intake and cardiovascular risk factors: A Mendelian randomisation study

Lookup NU author(s): Dr So-Youn Shin, Professor Caroline Relton



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Mendelian randomisation studies from Asia suggest detrimental influences of alcohol on cardiovascular risk factors, but such associations are observed mainly in men. The absence of associations of genetic variants (e.g. rs671 in ALDH2) with such risk factors in women - who drank little in these populations -provides evidence that the observations are not due to genetic pleiotropy. Here, we present a Mendelian randomisation study in a South Korean population (3,365 men and 3,787 women) that 1) provides robust evidence that alcohol consumption adversely affects several cardiovascular disease risk factors, including blood pressure, waist to hip ratio, fasting blood glucose and triglyceride levels. Alcohol also increases HDL cholesterol and lowers LDL cholesterol. Our study also 2) replicates sex differences in associations which suggests pleiotropy does not underlie the associations, 3) provides further evidence that association is not due to pleiotropy by showing null effects in male non-drinkers, and 4) illustrates a way to measure population-level association where alcohol intake is stratified by sex. In conclusion, population-level instrumental variable estimation (utilizing interaction of rs671 in ALDH2 and sex as an instrument) strengthens causal inference regarding the largely adverse influence of alcohol intake on cardiovascular health in an Asian population.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Cho Y, Shin SY, Won S, Relton CL, Smith GD, Shin MJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Scientific Reports

Year: 2015

Volume: 5

Online publication date: 21/12/2015

Acceptance date: 26/10/2015

Date deposited: 22/02/2016

ISSN (electronic): 2045-2322

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1038/srep18422


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Funder referenceFunder name
Oak Foundation
Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Republic of Korea
Medical Research Council Integrative Epidemiology Unit
2015R1A2A1A15054758BAsic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) - Ministry of Science, ICT and future Planning
4851-307Korea Biobank Project
4845-301Korean Genome Analysis Project
4851-302Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study
KBP-2014-062Korea Biobank Project