Aim: Anti-inflammatory effects of moderate alcohol consumption have been proposed to explain why moderate alcohol intake lowers coronary heart disease risk. We investigated the relationship between overall alcohol, beer or wine consumption and markers of systemic inflammation in three different geographical areas in Europe.
Methods and results: Cross-sectional samples, each representative of the general population from Germany, Scotland, and France (MONICA Augsburg 1994/95, 2275 men and 2186 women, 25-74 years; Glasgow MONICA 1994/95, 561/616, 25-74 years, and MONICA Lille 1994/95, 581/574, 35-64 years) were studied. Alcohol intake was assessed by standardized interview. Adjusted means of C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, white blood cell (WBC) count, plasma viscosity (PV), and albumin were calculated among categories of alcohol intake, and separately for beer or wine consumption, by multiple linear regression. Self-reported moderate daily alcohol intake up to 40 g was associated with lower concentrations of CRP, fibrinogen, PV and WBC count, compared to non-drinking and heavy drinking, even after adjustment for various potential confounders.
Conclusions: Moderate consumption of either wine or beer is associated with lower levels of systemic inflammatory markers in three different European areas, suggesting that ethanol itself might be largely responsible for the potential anti-inflammatory effects of these beverages.