The effects of alcohol consumption upon the gastrointestinal tract

Am J Gastroenterol. 2000 Dec;95(12):3374-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1572-0241.2000.03347.x.


Regardless of the type and dose of beverage involved, alcohol facilitates the development of gastroesophageal reflux disease by reducing the pressure of the lower esophageal sphincter and esophageal motility. Fermented and nondistilled alcoholic beverages increase gastrin levels and acid secretion. Succinic and maleic acid contained in certain alcoholic drinks also stimulate acid secretion. Low alcohol doses accelerate gastric emptying, whereas high doses delay emptying and slow bowel motility. Alcohol facilitates the development of superficial gastritis and chronic atrophic gastritis--though it has not been shown to cause peptic ulcer. Alcoholic beverages, fundamentally wine, have important bactericidal effects upon Helicobacter pylori and enteropathogenic bacteria. The main alcohol-related intestinal alterations are diarrhea and malabsorption, with recovery after restoring a normal diet. Alcohol facilitates the development of oropharyngeal, esophageal, gastric, and colon cancer. Initial research suggests that wine may be comparatively less carcinogenic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking*
  • Alcoholic Beverages / adverse effects
  • Bacterial Infections / physiopathology
  • Digestive System Neoplasms / etiology
  • Gastritis / etiology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / etiology
  • Gastrointestinal Motility / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Absorption / drug effects
  • Wine / adverse effects