A large study from Germany shows that moderate drinkers have lower rates of previous or current infection with Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) in the stomach that is associated with the risk of peptic ulcer and stomach cancer. Their lowest risk was seen among consumers of the equivalent of about 1 to 2 drinks per day.
Several studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between current moderate alcohol consumption and H. pylori infection, suggesting that alcohol consumption may facilitate elimination of this chronic infection.
The aim of this study was to further explore this hypothesis by taking into account lifetime alcohol consumption, which may be a better marker of the relevant exposure than current alcohol consumption.
The investigators studied a total of 1,206 patients between 30 and 70 years of age who underwent in-patient rehabilitation due to coronary heart disease between January, 1999, and April, 2000. Participants provided information on average amount of alcohol consumed during the past 12 months as well as during their lifetime. H. pylori infection status was measured by serum immunoglobulin G antibodies.
The investigators found that there was an inverse non-linear relation between amount of current alcohol consumption and H. pylori seroprevalence. They found an inverse linear (dose-response) relationship between lifetime alcohol consumption and H. pylori seroprevalence, with the strongest risk reduction among subjects who had consumed more than 500,000 g of alcohol during life (adjusted odds ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.42-1.00). They conclude that their analysis supports the hypothesis that alcohol consumption may facilitate elimination of H. pylori infection among adults.
Source: Kuepper-Nybelen J, Rothenbacher D, Brenner H. Relationship between lifetime alcohol consumption and Helicobacter pylori infection. Ann Epidemiol 2005;15:607-613.