Alcohol and Coronary Artery Calcification: An Investigation Utilizing Alcohol Flushing as an Instrumental Variable

Kyung Eun Yun, Yoosoo Chang, Sung-Cheol Yun, George Davey Smith, Seungho Ryu, Sung-il Cho, Eun Chul Chung, Hocheol Shin, Young-Ho Khang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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Background: We examined whether alcohol flushing could be used as an instrumental variable (IV) and investigated the effect of alcohol consumption on coronary calcification using alcohol flushing status as an IV.

Methods: We analyzed cross-sectional data from 24,681 Korean adults (20,696 men and 3,985 women) who had been administered a questionnaire assessing alcohol consumption and alcohol flushing, as well as a coronary artery calcium (CAC) measurement. The associations of alcohol flushing status with potential confounders and alcohol consumption were examined. We employed the two-stage predictor substitution methodology for the IV analysis.

Results: The prevalence of alcohol flushing did not differ depending on gender, education, household income, cigarette smoking, or physical activity. Balanced levels of confounders were observed between alcohol flushers and non-flushers. Alcohol flushing was closely related to alcohol consumption and levels of liver enzymes. In men, a doubling in alcohol consumption was associated with increased odds of coronary calcification in both the IV analysis (odds ratio [OR] of CAC scores of 1 or over=1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.03–1.20) and the multivariable regression analysis (OR=1.04; 95% CI=1.01–1.07). For cardiovascular risk factors, the IV analysis showed a positive association between alcohol consumption and blood pressure and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol.

Conclusions: Alcohol flushing can be used as an IV in studies evaluating the health impact of alcohol consumption, especially in East Asian countries. Through such an analysis, we found that increased alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of subclinical coronary atherosclerosis.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 10 Jan 2017


  • Alcohol consumption
  • ALDH2
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Coronary atherosclerosis
  • Mendelian randomization analysis
  • Republic of Korea


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  • MRC UoB UNITE Unit - Programme 1

    Davey Smith, G.


    Project: Research

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