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J Intern Med. 2017 Jan;281(1):75-85. doi: 10.1111/joim.12544. Epub 2016 Aug 3.

Ten-year alcohol consumption typologies and trajectories of C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist over the following 12 years: a prospective cohort study.

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Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, UK.
UCL Institute of Liver and Digestive Health, Royal Free Campus, University College London, London, UK.



Moderate alcohol consumption is thought to confer cardiometabolic protective effects. Inflammatory pathways are hypothesized to partly underlie this association.


The aim of this study was to examine the association between typologies of alcohol consumption and markers of inflammation, and their rate of change over time.


Data were collected from 8209 participants [69% men; mean age, 50 years (SD 6.1)] of the British Whitehall II study. Alcohol consumption typologies were defined using up to three measures during an approximately 10-year period spanning from 1985 to 1994 as (i) stable nondrinkers, (ii) stable moderate drinkers (referent), (iii) stable heavy drinkers, (iv) nonstable drinkers and (v) former drinkers. C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin (IL)-6 and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1 RA) were measured up to three times in the following 12 years.


Stable moderate drinkers had lower levels of CRP than stable nondrinkers, stable heavy drinkers, former drinkers and nonstable drinkers, but there were no differences in the rate of change in CRP over time between groups. Stable nondrinkers had higher levels of IL-6 as did stable heavy drinkers; rates of change in IL-6 over time were also increased in the latter group. Stable nondrinkers also had higher levels of IL-1 RA. These associations were robust to adjustment for confounding factors.


Our novel investigation of 10-year drinking typologies shows that stable moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a long-term inflammatory marker profile that is consistent with conferring a reduced risk of developing coronary heart disease.


alcohol; cytokines; epidemiology; inflammation; longitudinal

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