Alcohol intake and systemic markers of inflammation--shape of the association according to sex and body mass index

Alcohol Alcohol. 2010 Mar-Apr;45(2):119-25. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agp092. Epub 2010 Jan 18.


Aims: To assess the association of alcohol intake with high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), uric acid and leukocyte count in blood, and whether sex and body mass index (BMI) modify these associations.

Methods: Individuals aged > or =18 years were randomly selected from the population of Porto, Portugal (70% of participation). A total of 840 women and 490 men with reliable information on inflammatory markers and alcohol intake, obtained from a validated food frequency questionnaire, were studied. Associations and their respective trends were estimated from generalized linear models, with adjustment for potential confounders. Analyses were stratified by sex and BMI.

Results: In women, adjusted hs-CRP levels (mg/l) were 2.69 in non-drinkers, 2.25 in drinkers of >0-15 g alcohol/day, 2.32 in drinkers of >15-30 g alcohol/day and 3.18 in drinkers of >30 g alcohol/day (P-value for the quadratic trend <0.001). In men, the association between alcohol intake and hs-CRP was positive and linear (P-value for the linear trend = 0.014). Alcohol intake was also positively and linearly associated with uric acid in each sex. Body weight modified these associations, which remained statistically significant only in normal-weight (BMI <25 kg/m(2)) women and overweight (BMI > or =25 kg/m(2)) men for hs-CRP, and in normal-weight individuals for uric acid. No significant association between alcohol intake and leukocyte count was found.

Conclusions: The association of alcohol intake with hs-CRP was J-shaped in women but positive and linear-shaped in men. Alcohol intake was directly associated with uric acid in men and women. BMI modifies the effect of alcohol on hs-CRP and uric acid levels in each sex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / immunology*
  • Alcoholism / immunology*
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukocyte Count
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / immunology
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors
  • Uric Acid / blood


  • Uric Acid
  • C-Reactive Protein