Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a disease characterised by chronic inflammation of all or part of the digestive tract. It primarily involves Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC).

The exact cause of IBD is largely unknown but is thought to involve interactions between microbial, genetic, environmental and immunological factors. One factor thought to increase risk of IBD is long-term and excessive consumption of alcohol however no consensus on this has been well established.

Harmful consumption of alcohol can increase risk of other gastrointestinal problems such as gastritis, cirrhosis, hepatitis, and pancreatitis. Researchers have investigated whether people with high levels of alcohol intoxication are at increased risk of IBD.

Data from a large database in Taiwan was analysed for this study. Participants were organised into two cohorts – alcoholic and non-alcoholic intoxication. Alcoholic intoxication severity was classified into three categories. Any incidence of IBD was recorded and its association with alcoholic intoxication severity.

In this study, alcoholic intoxication was found to be associated with an increased risk of IBD compared to people without alcoholic intoxication. As length of hospital stay caused by alcoholic intoxication increased, so too did risk of IBD.

Implications

This study suggests that severe and recurrent alcoholic intoxication is associated with increased risk of IBD. Drinking alcohol in excessive quantities is damaging across a broad front. It’s important to drink in moderation follow official guidelines.

Last Reviewed: 29/11/2019

Norman Swan Medical Communications



References

Hsu, T-Y et al. (2016). Effect of Alcoholic Intoxication on the Risk of Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Nationwide Retrospective Cohort Study. PLoS oNE 11(11): e0165411. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0165411.