Moderate alcohol consumption has been suggested to facilitate elimination of Helicobacter pylori infection which is a key risk factor for chronic atrophic gastritis (CAG) and gastric cancer. The aim of our study was to assess the association of alcohol consumption with CAG among older adults from Germany. In the baseline examination of ESTHER, a population-based study conducted in Saarland, serological measurements of pepsinogen I and II (for CAG definition) and H. pylori antibodies were taken in 9,444 subjects aged 50-74 years. Moderate current (<60 g/week) and lifetime (<or=51,376 g, lowest quartile) alcohol consumption were found to be associated with significantly reduced CAG risk compared to alcohol abstinence with adjusted odds ratios of 0.71 (0.55-0.90) and 0.73 (0.55-0.96), respectively. Inverse associations with CAG were observed for moderate alcohol consumption from both beer and wine, and were slightly attenuated after additional adjustment for H. pylori infection. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that moderate alcohol consumption may be inversely related to CAG, partly through facilitating the elimination of H. pylori. However, the observed patterns suggest that other mechanisms are likely to contribute to the association as well.
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