Moderate alcohol consumption may reduce risk for kidney disease
Compared with “never drinkers,” participants who consumed moderate amounts of alcohol had a lower risk for developing chronic kidney disease, according to published results.
“Moderate alcohol consumption has been found to be associated with reduced risk of coronary heart disease [CHD],” Emily A. Hu, MHS, of Johns Hopkins University and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and colleagues wrote. “This may be attributed to alcohol increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, which could increase transport rate of lipoproteins and lipoprotein lipase activity, therefore preventing CHD. Because CHD and chronic kidney disease (CKD) share many risk factors and pathophysiology, it is possible that moderate alcohol consumption may also reduce the risk of CKD.”
The researchers emphasized that the relationship between alcohol consumption and CKD is complex as alcohol can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of hypertension — a “major risk factor” for CKD — but can also protect against other risk factors, such as CHD, myocardial infarction and diabetes.
Researchers conducted a prospective analysis of 12,692 adults (aged between 45 and 64 years) who participated in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study. Participants were categorized by alcohol consumption as never drinkers, former drinkers, no more than one drink per week, two to seven drinks per week, eight to 14 drinks per week or a minimum of 15 drinks per week. Current drinkers were more likely to be men, white and to have a higher income and education level.
Participants were followed for a median of 24 years. During this time, 3,664 cases of incident CKD occurred (defined as eGFR < 60 mL/min/1.73m2 with 25% eGFR decline, a kidney disease-related hospitalization or death, or ESRD).
Researchers found participants who drank no more than one drink per week, two to seven drinks per week, eight to 14 drinks per week and a minimum of 15 drinks per week had, respectively, a 12%, 20%, 29% and 23% lower risk of developing CKD compared with those who never drank alcohol.
Despite these results, researchers noted it is important to consider the harms of alcohol, citing the Global Burden of Disease Study from 2016, which suggested “even a low amount of alcohol consumption may be associated with increased global disease burden.”
Still, Hu and colleagues wrote, “The findings of our study echo previous studies that found an inverse association between alcohol intake and CKD, although these studies were conducted in select populations with limited generalizability. The present analysis, which was conducted in a community-based cohort of black and white men and women from four U.S. centers, helps to address this gap.” – by Melissa J. Webb
Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.