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

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.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Levesque C.; Sanger N.; Edalati H.; Sohi I.; Shield K. D.; Sherk A.; Stockwell T.; Butt P. R.; Paradis C.
  • Issue

    C Levesque et al.  Alcohol (Hoboken) (2023)volume 47
  • Published Date