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Alcohol. 2010 May;44(3):223-8. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2009.10.019.

Pattern of alcohol consumption and its effect on gastrointestinal symptoms in inflammatory bowel disease.

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Department Digestive Diseases, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60612-3824, USA.


Alcohol consumption is a potential trigger for flare in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare because of alcohol's pro-oxidant effects and its deleterious effects on gut barrier function. The association with alcohol consumption and IBD flare is unclear. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the pattern of alcohol consumption and its self-reported effect on gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in patients with IBD. We recruited 129 consecutive patients: 52 patients with Crohn's disease, 38 patients with ulcerative colitis, and 39 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). All the participants completed a validated questionnaire on disease activity (the Crohn's disease activity index or ulcerative colitis clinical activity index, respectively) validated questionnaires to quantify alcohol consumption by National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism criteria, and two structured questionnaires we designed to access patients' perception of the effect of alcohol on their GI symptoms and on overall GI symptom severity. The pattern of current, light, moderate, and heavy alcohol consumption in inactive IBD was similar to the general U.S.


Specifically, of the 90 inactive IBD patients, 56 (62%) were current drinkers, compared with 61% in the general U.S.


Of current drinkers, 75% of IBD (N=42) and 43% of IBS (N=9) reported a worsening of GI symptoms with alcohol consumption (P=.01); however, overall GI symptom severity did not differ when compared with quantity of alcohol consumed. Patients with inactive IBD drink alcohol in quantities similar to the general population. Current drinkers with inactive IBD are more likely to report worsening of GI symptoms with alcohol than current drinkers with IBS.

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