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J Behav Med. 2018 Jun;41(3):374-384. doi: 10.1007/s10865-017-9905-4. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Elevated inflammation in association with alcohol abuse among Blacks but not Whites: results from the MIDUS biomarker study.

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Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, 60 College Street, 403, New Haven, CT, 06510, USA.
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Maryland School of Public Health, 4200 Valley Drive, College Park, MD, 20742, USA.
Center for Molecular Medicine, Karolinska Institute, Solna, Sweden.
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, Uppsala University, Box 591, 751 24, Uppsala, Sweden.
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


Some studies document racial disparities in self-reported health associated with alcohol use and abuse. However, few studies examined biomarkers that underlie the onset of alcohol-related chronic diseases. We investigated whether the association between alcohol abuse and five biomarkers of inflammation (CRP, IL-6, fibrinogen, E-selectin, sICAM-1) vary between Black and White Americans aged 35 to 84 (n = 1173) from the Midlife in the United States Biomarker Study. Multivariable Ordinary Least Squares regressions were used to assess Black-White differences in the association between alcohol abuse and the biomarkers. Race moderated the association between alcohol abuse and CRP (b = 0.56, SE = 0.28, p = 0.048), IL-6 (b = 0.65, SE = 0.22, p = 0.004), and a composite inflammation score (b = 0.014, SE = 0.07, p = 0.041). These findings potentially shed light for why alcohol has a stronger negative association with poorer health for Blacks compared to Whites. Analysis should be replicated in larger prospective cohorts.


Alcohol abuse; Biological markers; Chronic disease; Inflammation; MIDUS; Race/ethnicity

[Available on 2019-06-01]

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