Alcohol is a widely consumed substance in the United States, however its effect on aging remains understudied. In this study of young adults, we examined whether cumulative alcohol consumption, i.e., alcohol years of beer, liquor, wine, and total alcohol, and recent binge drinking, were associated with four measures of age-related epigenetic changes via blood DNA methylation. A random subset of study participants in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study underwent DNA methylation profiling using the Illumina MethylationEPIC Beadchip. Participants with alcohol consumption and methylation data at examination years 15 (n = 1,030) and 20 (n = 945) were included. Liquor and total alcohol consumption were associated with a 0.31-year (P = 0.002) and a 0.12-year (P = 0.013) greater GrimAge acceleration (GAA) per additional five alcohol years, while beer and wine consumption observed marginal (P = 0.075) and no associations (P = 0.359) with GAA, respectively. Any recent binge drinking and the number of days of binge drinking were associated with a 1.38-year (P < 0.001) and a 0.15-year (P < 0.001) higher GAA, respectively. We observed statistical interactions between cumulative beer (P < 0.001) and total alcohol (P = 0.004) consumption with chronological age, with younger participants exhibiting a higher average in GAA compared to older participants. No associations were observed with the other measures of epigenetic aging. These results suggest cumulative liquor and total alcohol consumption and recent binge drinking may alter age-related epigenetic changes as captured by GAA. With the increasing aging population and widespread consumption of alcohol, these findings may have potential implications for lifestyle modification to promote healthy aging.
Keywords: DNA methylation; alcohol; binge drinking; epigenetic age; lifetime alcohol consumption.