The Health Risks of Overdrinking
Individuals with genetic predisposition to low alcohol metabolism were more susceptible to heart conditions like atrial fibrillation when they drank excessively, according to recent research findings.
Atrial fibrillation is one of the most common clinical arrhythmias and a major cause of stroke, dementia, heart failure, and mortality worldwide.
On the 18th, according to Seoul National University Hospital, a research team led by Professor Oh Se-il and clinical instructor Park Chan-soon analyzed the risk of atrial fibrillation based on genetic predisposition to alcohol metabolism and daily alcohol consumption on approximately 400,000 subjects with genetic data from the UK Biobank database, enrolled between 2006 and 2010. The team derived the results from their analysis.
While it is well-known that the risk of atrial fibrillation increases with unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise, the relationship between alcohol consumption and atrial fibrillation risk has not been established.
The research team tracked the risk of atrial fibrillation for about 12 years on 399,329 individuals with no history of atrial fibrillation, categorizing them based on their average daily alcohol intake into non-drinkers (0g), mild-to-moderate drinkers (< 30 g/day), and heavy drinkers (≥ 30 g/day).
They also further divided each group into ‘low’, ‘average’, and ‘high’ risk scores based on their alcohol metabolism.
The results showed that among those who drink excessively, the group with slow alcohol metabolism had the highest relative risk of atrial fibrillation.
However, the association between alcohol metabolism and atrial fibrillation risk varied depending on the amount of alcohol consumption.
In the group of excessive drinkers, the risk of atrial fibrillation decreased as the alcohol metabolism went from ‘low’ to ‘high’. However, this pattern was not observed in light-to-moderate drinkers and non-drinkers.
Additionally, the experiment showed that regardless of alcohol metabolism, the risk of atrial fibrillation increased by 1% for each additional 8g (approximately 1 drink, regardless of type) of daily alcohol consumption.
Professor Oh Se-il said, “This study is the first to analyze the complex relationship between alcohol consumption, genetic predisposition (alcohol metabolism), and atrial fibrillation in a large group,” and added, “Even if people drink the same amount of alcohol, the risk of atrial fibrillation varies. People with slow alcohol metabolism are more vulnerable to atrial fibrillation, so they should actively abstain from drinking.”
This study was published in the international medical journal ‘BMC Medicine’.