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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

The relationship between mild alcohol consumption and mortality in Koreans: a systematic review and meta-analysis

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Ji-Eun Park, Tae-young Choi, Yeonhee Ryu, Sung-Il Cho
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12889-015-2263-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

JEP and SIC designed the study, and JEP and TYC conducted data search end analysis. JEP drafted the manuscript, YHR and SIC revised the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Authors’ information

Not applicable.

Availability of data and materials

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A recent systematic review reported that mild drinking showed beneficial effects on mortality. However, this relationship between alcohol consumption and mortality differs by race, and there are few studies on Koreans. In this study, we reviewed previous studies conducted on Koreans to investigate the association between mild drinking and mortality.


Four databases (Medline, Web of Science, KoreaMed, and DBpia) were searched. Studies investigating the risk of alcohol consumption on three types of mortality (all-cause mortality, cancer-related mortality, and cardiovascular mortality) for Koreans were included.


A total of 16 studies assessed alcohol consumption as a risk factor for mortality. Nine studies reported on the risk of alcohol consumption in relation to all-cause mortality, eight to cancer-related mortality, and three to cardiovascular mortality. Among these, only studies assessing alcohol amount not drink status or drink frequency were included in meta-analysis. The results of the meta-analysis did not show a significant effect of mild alcohol consumption on all-cause mortality (5 studies, OR: 0.85, 95 % CI: 0.72, 1.01). While meta-analysis of studies using all-cancer mortality showed significant effect of alcohol consumption (4 studies, OR: 0.89, 95 % CI: 0.85, 0.94), results of studies including all-caner and specific type of cancer was not significant (7 studies, OR: 1.02, 95 % CI: 0.9, 1.15). Although a meta-analysis of cardiovascular mortality could not be conducted owing to a lack of studies, all studies reported a non-significant effect of occasional or mild alcohol consumption.


In this study, mild alcohol consumption in Korean did not show beneficial effect on mortality and it might be caused by three factors: criterion of mild drinking, the subjects, and sample size. The criterion of mild alcohol consumption was diverse in included studies. The effect of alcohol consumption could differ based on subjects’ sex, age as well as race. In addition, the effect of alcohol consumption might be different from previous one due to the small number of studies.


Mild alcohol consumption did not show any beneficial effects in relation to all-cause, cancer-related, and cardiovascular mortality. Additional studies are necessary to verify any association between mild drinking and mortality in Koreans.
Additional file 1: PRISMA guideline. (DOC 64 kb)
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