Influence of moderate drinking on purine and carbohydrate metabolism

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2002 Aug;26(8 Suppl):20S-25S. doi: 10.1097/01.ALC.0000026829.60802.67.


Background: We examined the influences of a moderate intake level of three types of alcoholic beverages--beer, whisky, and Shochu (Japanese distilled liquor)--on purine and carbohydrate metabolism and excretion in healthy male volunteers, concerning (1) the extent of contribution of purine bodies contained in beer to uric acid metabolism and (2) a comparison between two types of distilled spirits with (whisky) and without (Shochu) aging in oak wood barrel storage.

Methods: Three sets of studies were conducted in which 10 to 13 healthy adult men were instructed to drink three types of alcoholic beverages at a slightly higher level (0.8 ml of ethanol equivalent/kg body weight) than moderate drinking (approximately 30.4 ml or less for men). A low purine beer was test-manufactured by treating nucleosides that were contained in wort and remained in beer with purine nucleoside phosphorylase derived from Ochrobacterium anthropi, thereby converting them into corresponding purine bases that were easily assimilated by beer yeast.

Results: Although beer intake enhanced the level of serum uric acid by 13.6%, blood glucose by 26.7%, and insulin level by 5.1-fold, drinking a moderate level of distilled liquor (whisky, Shochu) did not increase the serum uric acid level or the other two parameters. The serum uric acid level observed after drinking beer with a purine body concentration reduced by 28% (68% in nucleosides and purine bases) was almost identical to the level observed after drinking regular beer. Whisky has been found to have a property that decreases the serum uric acid level. Excretion of uric acid from blood is increased by 27% after drinking whisky.

Conclusions: Moderate drinking of distilled liquors did not enhance serum uric acid level, blood glucose, or insulin level in healthy male subjects. Increased serum uric acid after beer intake could not be explained mostly with their purine body congeners. Whisky showed the eliminative property in serum uric acid through excretion of it from blood to urine. At a moderate drinking level, beer and whisky have different effects on purine metabolism or excretion.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism*
  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Beer
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / physiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Purines / administration & dosage
  • Purines / blood*
  • Uric Acid / blood*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Purines
  • Uric Acid