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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2016 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2016

Women’s health in the Lund area (WHILA) - Alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality among women – a 17 year follow-up study

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2016
Patrik Midlöv, Susanna Calling, Ashfaque A. Memon, Jan Sundquist, Kristina Sundquist, Sven-Erik Johansson
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

PM, SC, AM, JS, KS, SJ worked on conception of the study; SJ wrote the initial statistical analysis plan; PM, SC, AM, JS, and KS contributed to the statistical analysis plan; SJ analysed the data; PM, SC, AM, JS, KS contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the data; PM drafted the paper; SC, AM, JS, KS, SJ worked on further drafting and revising the paper critically. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Alcohol consumption contributes to many negative health consequences and is a risk factor for death. Some previous studies however suggest a J-shaped relationship between the level of alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality. These findings have in part been suggested to be due to confounders. The aim of our study was to analyze the relationship between self-reported alcohol intake and all-cause mortality in women, adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle factors and diseases such as diabetes and previous ischemic heart disease.


All women aged 50–59 years (born between 1935 and 1945) that lived in any of the five municipalities in southern Sweden were invited to participate in a health survey. From December 1995 to February 2000 a total of 6916 women (out of 10,766, the total population of women in 1995) underwent a physical examination and answered a questionnaire. We followed the women from the day of screening until death, or if no event occurred until May 31st 2015. Mortality was ascertained through the national cause-of-death register.


In this study a total of 6353 women were included. Alcohol consumption showed a J-formed relationship with mortality, when adjusted for education, marital status, smoking, BMI, physical fitness, diabetes and ischemic heart disease before screening. Non consumption of alcohol was associated with increased mortality as well as higher levels of consumption, from 12 grams per day and upwards.


There was a clear J-shaped relation between the amount of alcohol consumption and all-cause mortality even after controlling for sociodemography, lifestyle factors and diseases such as diabetes and previous ischemic heart disease. The observed protective effect of light drinking (1–12 grams/day) could thus not be attributed to any of these known confounders.
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