Background: Pancreatitis is a highly prevalent medical condition associated with a spectrum of endocrine and exocrine pancreatic insufficiencies. While high alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for pancreatitis, its relationship with specific types of pancreatitis and a potential threshold have not been systematically examined.
Methods: We conducted a systematic literature search for studies on the association between alcohol consumption and pancreatitis based on PRISMA guidelines. Non-linear and linear random-effect dose-response meta-analyses using restricted cubic spline meta-regressions and categorical meta-analyses in relation to abstainers were conducted.
Findings: Seven studies with 157,026 participants and 3618 cases of pancreatitis were included into analyses. The dose-response relationship between average volume of alcohol consumption and risk of pancreatitis was monotonic with no evidence of non-linearity for chronic pancreatitis (CP) for both sexes (p = 0.091) and acute pancreatitis (AP) in men (p = 0.396); it was non-linear for AP in women (p = 0.008). Compared to abstention, there was a significant decrease in risk (RR = 0.76, 95%CI: 0.60-0.97) of AP in women below the threshold of 40 g/day. No such association was found in men (RR = 1.1, 95%CI: 0.69-1.74). The RR for CP at 100 g/day was 6.29 (95%CI: 3.04-13.02).
Interpretation: The dose-response relationships between alcohol consumption and risk of pancreatitis were monotonic for CP and AP in men, and non-linear for AP in women. Alcohol consumption below 40 g/day was associated with reduced risk of AP in women. Alcohol consumption beyond this level was increasingly detrimental for any type of pancreatitis.
Funding: The work was financially supported by a grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (R21AA023521) to the last author.
Keywords: Acute pancreatitis; Alcohol; Chronic pancreatitis; Meta-analysis; Pancreatitis.