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Cholesterol levels and Alcohol use in moderation; Is Cholesterol Really Affected in an Internal Medicine Clinic?

1 August 2006


Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure the amount and type of alcohol that a person consumes and their cholesterol levels to investigate if there is a correlation between alcohol consumption and cholesterol levels. Subjects involved in this study were selected at random from a solo practitioner Internal Medicine· clinic with a population group mainly made up of Caucasians and Hispanics. With all other health problems set aside, this study attempted to compare this small population with two distinct ethnicities to prior studies.

Methods and Results: The data collection including the consent forms, survey and chart review were performed at the internal medicine clinic of Dr. Edmundo Rosales, in Hillsboro, Oregon. Participants completed a questionnaire that contained questions pertaining to the following: preferred beverage, frequency of consumption, servings per sitting and ounces per drink, age, ethnicity, and cholesterol lowering medications use. Patients that drank multiple beverage types were asked to disclose information about their favorite and most frequent beverage in order to simplify. The chart review involved collecting the subject's latest cholesterol levels. The statistical tests run were specifically for ethnicity, frequency of consumption, type of drink, and statin use. The ethnicity tests consisted of: 1) descriptive statistics for ethnicity; and 2) Two Sample T Tests for ethnicity vs. age, consumption, drinks/year, HDL, LDL, ounces/drink, statin use, and total ounces per year. The frequency of consumption consisted of Two Sample T Tests for: age, drink type, ethnicity, HDL, LDL, and size of drink. The statistics for type of drinks were divided into three groups: 1) comparing consumer and non consumer; 2) comparing wine consumer to beer and spirits consumer; and 3) comparing non consumers to wine consumers. Within these three groups the following was compared: age, ethnicity, HDL, LDL, sex, and statin use. A Pearson correlation test was run on consumer, HDL, LDL, sex, and statin use. With respect to ethnicity, the Caucasian group was significantly older than the Hispanic group of participants, (p value = 0.0256). Hispanics drank more ounces of an alcoholic beverage in a year than Caucasians (p = 0.0000), while Caucasians consumed more frequently than Hispanics (p = 0.0003). The frequency of consumption was significantly different in the HDL and LDL levels, apart from ethnicity. The HDL levels of daily alcohol consumer's was higher than weekend only consumers (p value = 0.0075), while the daily consumer's also showed a lower LDL than weekend consumers (p value = 0.0500). The type of beverage group comparing consumers to non-consumers had a significant difference in the ages of the groups. The non-consumers were approximately 9 years older than the consumers (p value = 0.0042). The only other significant difference in this group was that the nonconsumers had lower LDL levels, by 20 points, than the alcohol consumers (p value = 0.0042). Statin use did not vary between ages, ethnicity groups or the sex of the subject. The sex and HDL of the subjects had a positive cOl1:'e1ation 26.24% of the time, showing that the female subjects had lower unfavorable HDL levels. Alcohol consumption and gender had a negative correlation of 24.03%, inferring that the male subjects were more likely to consume alcohol.

Conclusions: Although the sub-populations were not equally matched in age and consumption amounts, a few results were replicated from other studies. Some health benefits are seen in Caucasians and Hispanics with moderate alcohol consumption. HDL and LDL levels are at healthier levels in daily moderate drinkers than weekend bingers. Wine consumers have better HDL levels over beer and spirit consumers.


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