Alcohol use may increase risk of allergic rhinitis and asthma

Many studies show a beneficial effect of moderate alcohol use on cardiovascular mortality but little is known about the alcohol effect on atopic diseases.

Alcohol consumption and risk of developing allergic rhinitis

A Danish study investigated the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of developing allergic rhinitis (AR) among 4,800 young women.

During follow-up, 14% of women developed seasonal AR and 9% developed perennial AR. Alcohol consumption (more than 14 drinks/week) was positively associated with the risk of developing perennial AR with an odds ratio of 1.78. There was no association between alcohol consumption and seasonal AR. Smoking, an activity often concurrent in people who drink, was not associated with an increased risk of developing AR.

The authors concluded that alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk of developing perennial (but not seasonal) AR.

Alcohol consumption and risk of developing asthma

There is a U-shaped association between alcohol intake and risk of asthma, and the risk was lower for subjects with wine preference (Respir Med. 2011). The risk of new-onset asthma was related to overall alcohol intake in a U-shaped manner with the lowest risk observed in the group with a moderate weekly intake of alcohol (1-6 units/week). The highest risk of asthma was observed in rare/never drinkers (less than 1 unit/month), OR = 1.59, whereas the risk of asthma in heavy daily drinkers (more than 4 units/day) was also increased, but not statistically significant, OR = 1.13. The risk of new-onset asthma was lower for subjects with wine preference (3.3%) compared with beer preference (4.3%) or no preference (4.4%).

References:

Alcohol consumption and the risk of self-reported perennial and seasonal allergic rhinitis in young adult women in a population-based cohort study. P. Bendtsen, M. Grønbæk, S. K. Kjær, C. Munk, A. Linneberg, J. S. Tolstrup (2008). Clinical and Experimental Allergy.
Alcohol literally kills: Gary Moore had 380mg/dL in his blood, Winehouse 416mg/dL when she died surrounded by 3 empty vodka bottles. Telegraph UK, 2012
Intake of alcohol and risk of adult-onset asthma. Lieberoth S, Backer V, Kyvik KO, Skadhauge LR, Tolstrup JS, Grønbæk M, Linneberg A, Thomsen SF. Respir Med. 2011 Nov 28. [Epub ahead of print]
Alcohol Allergy - Medscape blog post, 2011.
Alcohol allergy? 1. Prick-prick tests with suspected drinks. 2. If negative, oral challenge test with increasing doses of the drinks should be performed. http://buff.ly/16uHYbi
Image source: OpenClipArt.org, public domain.

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