Many obervational cohort studies have found moderate alcohol consumption to be associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease. The question is whether this is a true causal association. If it is true, what are the likely mechanisms, and can specif ic genes or other risk factors interact with alcohol? Within the well-organized society of Norway, large cohort studies (CONOR and the Counties Study) with more that 200,000 participants have been followed for a long time, making it possible to adjust for confoundiing factors better than what has been possible earlier. CONOR includes blood samples taken at the time of recruitment to the study. DNA from these samples will be genotyped with polymorphic candidate genes, such as the ADH1C gene, in a nested ca se-control study that includes two case groups, one with subjects who died of coronary heart disease and one with subjects who died of colorectal cancer. We can estimate the effects of these genes on the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer within st rata of alcohol consumption. Furthermore, we can estimate to what extent the inclusion of lipid measurements taken at the time of recruitment to CONOR will influence the alcohol effect. We have assembled a team of investigators with expertise in epidemio logy, pharmacology, alcohol metabolism, drug abuse, genetics and mental health to work on this important issue for public health.
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