Page last updated: Tuesday, June 08, 2010
Alcohol consumption and kidney function decline in the elderly: alcohol and kidney disease

A study by Kenneth Mukamal and colleagues states that the relationship between alcohol and kidney disease is unclear.
The research group carried out a prospective cohort study that included 4343 subjects from the Cardiovascular Health Study, a longitudinal, community-based cohort of persons aged 65 from four US communities. The group used previously defined categories based on weekly alcohol consumption: none, former, <1 drink, 1-6 drinks, 7-13 drinks and 14 drinks. Cystatin C was measured at baseline, year 3 and year 7; eligible subjects had at least two measures. Estimated Glomerular filtration rate (GFR)cys was calculated from cystatin C. The primary outcome was rapid kidney function as an annual estimated GFR (eGFRcys) loss >3 mL/min/1.73 m2/year.
8% of the cohort reported former alcohol use and 52% reported current alcohol consumption. During a mean follow-up of 5.6 years, 1075 (25%) participants had rapid kidney function decline. In adjusted logistic regression models, there was no association between alcohol use and kidney function decline (odds ratio, 95% confidence interval: none = reference; former = 1.18, 0.89-1.56; <1 drink = 1.20; 1-6 drinks= 1.18; 7-13 drinks = 1.10; >14 drinks = 0.89). Results were similar with kidney function decline as a continuous outcome.
The research suggests that moderate alcohol consumption has neither adverse nor beneficial effects on kidney function. Although clinicians will need to consider the potential deleterious effects associated with alcohol consumption, there does not appear to be a basis for recommending that older adults discontinue or initiate light to moderate alcohol consumption to protect against kidney disease. 
Source:, “Alcohol consumption and kidney function decline in the elderly: alcohol and kidney disease”, Menon V; Katz R; Mukamal K; Kestenbaum B; de Boer IH; Siscovick DS; Sarnak MJ; Shlipak MG. Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation, Published early online 15 April 2010

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