Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD), but excessive alcohol consumption is probably harmful to the heart. We analyzed the association of 2 commonly used markers of alcohol consumption—carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) and γ-glutamyltransferase (GGT)—and self-reported alcohol consumption with prevalent CHD.
The study included a random sample of 3666 Finnish men aged 25 to 74 years who participated in a risk factor survey in 1997. The cross-sectional association of CDT, GGT, and self-reported drinking with CHD was analyzed by means of logistic regression models.
The CDT level was inversely and GGT level positively associated with CHD risk. The odds ratios (adjusted for age, smoking, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, and body mass index) of CHD among men in the fourth quartiles of CDT and GGT, as compared with the first quartiles, were 0.69 and 1.76, respectively. In a composite risk assessment, men with normal CDT levels (≤20 U/L) and elevated GGT levels (>80 U/L) had nearly 8-fold adjusted risk of CHD as compared with the men with normal GGT levels and elevated CDT levels. Self-reported alcohol consumption had an inverse association with CHD risk, which disappeared after adjustment for the other risk factors.
Levels of CDT and GGT may be indicators of factors behind the curvilinear association between alcohol consumption and CHD risk. The CDT level seems to be related to beneficial biological changes and GGT level with the changes that are detrimental to the cardiovascular system. The inverse association of CDT level with CHD risk will be examined further in a forthcoming prospective study.