A research team recently demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a considerable reduction in the risk of autoimmune hypothyroidism, similar to findings in other autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. In the current population-based, case-control study, the team aimed to study a possible association between alcohol intake and autoimmune Graves hyperthyroidism.
In a well-defined Danish population (2,027,208 person-years of observation), the researchers prospectively identified patients with new overt thyroid dysfunction and studied 272 patients with Graves hyperthyroidism. For each patient, they recruited four age-gender-region-matched controls with normal thyroid function (n=1088). Participants gave detailed information on current and previous alcohol intake as well as other factors to be used for analyses. The association between alcohol intake and development of hyperthyroidism was analysed.
Graves patients had a lower reported alcohol consumption than controls (median units of alcohol (12g) per week: 2 vs 4). In a multivariate regression model, alcohol consumption was associated with a dose-dependent reduction in risk for development of overt Graves hyperthyroidism. Odds ratios (95% confidence interval) compared with the reference group with a past year consumption of 1-2 units of alcohol per week were as follows: 0 units/week 1.73 (1.17-2.56), 3-10 units/week 0.56 (0.39-0.79), 11-20 units/week 0.37 (0.21-0.65), 21 units/week 0.22 (0.08-0.60). Similar results were found for maximum previous alcohol consumption during a calendar year. No interaction was found with the type of alcohol consumed (wine vs beer), smoking habit, age, gender or region of inhabitancy.
The authors conclude that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a considerable reduction in the risk of Graves disease with hyperthyroidism - irrespective of age and gender. They state that autoimmune thyroid disease seems to be much more dependent on environmental factors than hitherto anticipated.
Source: Graves hyperthyroidism and moderate alcohol consumption: evidence for disease prevention Carle A; Pedersen IB; Knudsen N; Perrild H; Ovesen L; Rasmussen LB; Jorgensen T; Laurberg P. Clinical Endocrinology. Vol 79, No 1, 2013, pp111-119.