Latest scientific news 30 January 2020

Inverse relationship between moderate drinking and chronic kidney disease

In this prospective study, the risk of chronic kidney disease was lower among moderate drinkers compared to non-drinkers.

Because coronary heart disease (CHD) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) share many risk factors, it is possible that the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages may also reduce the risk of CKD. However, the relationship is complex as alcohol increases blood pressure and may thus increase the risk of hypertension which is a major risk factor for CKD. On the other hand, alcohol may be protective of CHD, heart attacks and diabetes which are major risk factors of CKD.

In this prospective analysis which studied the 12,000 participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, both their consumption of alcoholic beverages and their estimated glomerular filtration rate kidneys were assessed. During an average follow-up of 24 years, 3,664 cases of CKD were observed.

The results show that moderate drinkers (from < 1 drink to up to 15 drinks per week) had a lower risk of chronic kidney disease compared to never drinkers after adjusting for potential confounding factors.

The mechanisms for this inverse association are not fully understood but the authors explain that the mechanism of alcohol on CKD may be similar to the mechanism between alcohol and CHD since they share similar pathways. It has been proposed that the “good” HDL cholesterol may increase the transport rate of lipoproteins. Since low HDL cholesterol levels may increase the risk of renal dysfunction, the inverse relationship between alcohol and CKD may be mediated by HDL cholesterol.


1 drink = 4-ounce of wine, 12-ounce of beer, 1 ½ ounce shot of hard liquor


Hu E, Alcohol consumption and incident kidney disease: Results from the Atherosclerosis Risk in communities Study,J of Renal Nutrition 2019: 1-9.

For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.