Alcohol consumption and blood pressure: a comparison of native Japanese to American men

Michael J. Klag, Richard D. Moore, Paul K. Whelton, Yoshimichi Sakai, George W. Comstock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We compared the cross-sectional association of alcohol consumption with blood pressure in 810 Japanese men (JM) living in Tokyo and 946 white men (WM) living in New York. Mean systolic (JM and WM, p < 0.001) and diastolic blood pressure (JM, p < 0.002; WM, p < 0.001) were associated with alcohol consumption in both groups. Compared to abstainers, the heaviest drinkers had the highest systolic (JM, p = 0.001; WM, p < 0.01) and diastolic (JM, p < 0.002; WM, p < 0.05) blood pressures. The relation of blood pressure to alcohol intake was J-shaped in the Americans, but linear in the Japanese. Exploratory analyses revealed that the J-shape may have been due to under-reporting of heavy alcohol ingestion by American abstainers. When abstainers were excluded, the relationships were similar in both the American and Japanese. The positive association between blood pressure and alcohol consumption persisted after adjustment for age, cigarette smoking, use of antihypertensive medications, body mass index, heart rate, abdominal skinfold thickness, hematocrit, fasting blood glucose, serum uric acid levels and urinary sodium/potassium ratio. Alcohol use was also related to prevalence of hypertension. These findings confirm the presence of an independent association between alcohol intake and blood pressure in both JM and WM and suggest that, despite differences in the metabolism of alcohol, the relation of alcohol consumption to blood pressure is similar in both nationalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1407-1414
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Clinical Epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1990


  • Alcohol
  • Alcohol dehydrogenase
  • Blood pressure
  • Japanese
  • Misclassification
  • Racial differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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