Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a decreased risk in cardiovascular diseases. But there is still limited research towards the relation between alcohol consumption and the risk of blood clot formation in veins, also called venous thromboembolism. A recently published meta-analysis1, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, is the first one looking at this relation. Results suggest that there is no association between the two.
What is already known? Low to moderate alcohol consumption has been associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular diseases2, including a lower risk of blood clot formation in arteries3. There is less research towards the relation between alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism. Some studies have found reduced risk with higher alcohol consumption, others find a J-shaped relation or no association.
What does this study add? This is the first meta-analysis looking at the relation between alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism.
This meta-analysis includes ten prospective studies with more than 440,000 participants of whom 10,000 got a venous thromboembolism during the study periods. The studies are conducted in European countries and the United States.
The analysis shows no association between alcohol consumption and venous thromboembolism compared to no alcohol consumption. Looking at the dose-response relation, there is a trend towards a linear decrease in risk with increasing alcohol consumption, but it is not statically significant.
Venous thromboembolism is a condition in which a blood clot forms in a vein. This often happens in the deep veins of the leg, groin or arm and can travel in the circulation, eventually getting stuck in the lungs. About 25-40% of the cases of venous thromboembolism have an unknown cause. Lifestyle may play an important factor, such as a lack of physical activity and smoking.
- Only prospective studies included
- Dose-response analysis conducted
- Generalizable to Western population
- Some studies included former drinkers in reference group (number not specified), which can influence the results.
1 Chen, M., Ji, M., Chen, T., Hong, X., & Jia, Y. (2020). Alcohol consumption and risk for venous thromboembolism: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Frontiers in nutrition, 7, 32.
2 Ronksley PE, Brien SE, Turner BJ et al. (2011). Association of alcohol consumption with selected cardiovascular disease outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, 342:d671.
3 Lee, K. W., & Lip, G. Y. (2003). Effects of lifestyle on hemostasis, fibrinolysis, and platelet reactivity: a systematic review. Archives of internal medicine, 163(19), 2368-2392.