A systematic review of relative risks for the relationships between chronic alcohol use and the occurrence of disease.

Publication date: Jul 09, 2023

Alcohol use is causally linked to the development of and mortality from numerous diseases. The aim of this study is to provide an update to a previous systematic review of meta-analyses that quantify the sex-specific dose-response risk relationships between chronic alcohol use and disease occurrence and/or mortality. An updated systematic search of multiple databases was performed in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses criteria to identify meta-analyses published from January 1, 2017, to March 8, 2021, which quantified the risk relationships between chronic alcohol use and the risk of disease occurrence and/or mortality. This systematic review was not preregistered. The comparator was people who have never consumed at least one standard drink of alcohol. Measurements included relative risks, odds ratios, and hazard ratios of disease occurrence and/or mortality based on long-term alcohol intake measured in grams per day. The systematic search yielded 5953 articles, of which 14 were included in the narrative review. All diseases showed an increased risk of occurrence as alcohol use increased. At all doses examined, alcohol had a significant detrimental effect on tuberculosis, lower respiratory infections, oral cavity and pharyngeal cancers, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, laryngeal cancer, epilepsy, hypertension, liver cirrhosis, and pancreatitis (among men). For ischemic heart disease, ischemic stroke, and intracerebral hemorrhage, protective effects from low-dose chronic alcohol use among both men and women were observed. Low-dose alcohol consumption also had a protective effect for diabetes mellitus and pancreatitis among women (approximately to 50 g/day and 30 g/day, respectively). Alcohol use increases the risk of numerous infectious and noncommunicable diseases in a dose-response manner. Higher levels of alcohol use have a clear detrimental impact on health; however, at lower levels of use, alcohol can have both disease-specific protective and detrimental effects.

Concepts Keywords
Cancers alcohol
Databases chronic drinking
Diabetes infectious diseases
Sex noncommunicable diseases
systematic review


Type Source Name
drug DRUGBANK Ethanol
disease MESH tuberculosis
pathway KEGG Tuberculosis
disease MESH respiratory infections
disease MESH cancers esophageal
disease MESH cancer laryngeal
disease MESH cancer
disease MESH epilepsy
disease MESH hypertension
disease MESH liver cirrhosis
disease MESH pancreatitis
disease MESH intracerebral hemorrhage
disease MESH diabetes mellitus
disease MESH noncommunicable diseases
disease MESH infectious diseases

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