Alcohol consumption and risk of metabolic syndrome: A meta-analysis of prospective studies

Published:October 16, 2013DOI:


      Background & aims

      Epidemiological evidence suggests that alcohol consumption is related to the incidence and development of metabolic syndrome. However, data on this issue are unstable and controversial. We conducted a meta-analysis to provide a quantitative assessment of the association between alcohol intake and risk of metabolic syndrome.


      We searched the Pubmed and Embase databases up to May 2013 to identify prospective cohort studies related to alcohol consumption and metabolic syndrome. Summary effect estimates with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were derived using a fixed or random effects model, depending on the heterogeneity of the included studies.


      Six prospective studies involving 28,862 participants with 3305 cases of metabolic syndrome were included in the meta-analysis. On the basis of the Newcastle Ottawa Scale system, 83.3% of the studies were identified as relatively high-quality. In our primary analysis, compared with nondrinker, very light drinker was associated with decreased risk of metabolic syndrome [pooled relative risk (RR) 0.86, 95% CI: 0.75–0.99, fixed-effect model] while heavy drinker was associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome (pooled RR 1.84, 95% CI: 1.34–2.52, fixed-effect model). No indications of heterogeneity and publication bias were found in these two groups. Estimates of total effects were generally consistent in the sensitivity and stratification analyses.


      The present meta-analysis of prospective studies suggested that heavy alcohol consumption might be associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome while very light alcohol consumption seemed to be associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.


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