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STUDY OBJECTIVE—To examine the relation between alcohol and main alcoholic beverage consumption and subjective health in Spain.
DESIGN—Logistic regression analysis using a cross sectional survey based on self reported data on alcohol and alcoholic beverage consumption, subjective health and the principal confounding factors (age, sex, civil status, educational level, job status, social support, region of residence, size of town or city, tobacco consumption, physical activity during leisure time and work hours, and chronic disease).
SETTING—The 1993 Spanish National Health Survey.
PARTICIPANTS—A 19 573 person sample, representative of the non-institutionalised Spanish population aged 16 years and over.
MAIN RESULTS—Among Spaniards, 31.4% reported their health as suboptimal (fair, poor or very poor) and 56.9% consumed alcohol regularly, with the majority having a preference for wine. Light (1-2 drinks per day) or moderate consumption (3-4 drinks per day) was the most frequent pattern. After adjusting for confounding factors, a negative dose-response relation was observed between consumption of total alcohol, wine and beer, and prevalence of suboptimal health (linear trend: p<0.001 for total alcohol, p=0.023 for wine, and p=0.030 for beer). In contrast, for consumption of spirits the prevalence of ill health in moderate drinkers was lower than in non-drinkers, with no clear relation at higher consumption. While persons reporting a preference for wine had a lower frequency of suboptimal health than did abstainers, they showed no difference in frequency of subjective ill health with respect to persons with preference for other types of drink or no preference whatsoever.
CONCLUSIONS—The higher the consumption of total alcohol, wine and beer, the lower the prevalence of suboptimal health. These results differ from those obtained in several Nordic countries, where a "J shaped" relation has been observed for total alcohol and wine, and suggest that the relation between alcohol consumption and subjective health may be different in Mediterranean countries.
Keywords: alcohol; subjective health