Risk of end-stage renal disease associated with alcohol consumption

Thomas V. Perneger, Paul K. Whelton, Ian B. Puddey, Michael J. Klag

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97 Scopus citations


Alcohol consumption has been linked to kidney disorders in selected patient groups, but whether it contributes to the burden of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the general population is unknown. The authors conducted a population-based case-control study to assess the relation between alcohol consumption and risk of ESRD. The study took place in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, DC, in 1991. Participants were 716 patients who had started treatment for ESRD and 361 control subjects of similar age (20-64 years) selected by random digit dialing. The main risk factor of interest was self-reported consumption of alcoholic beverages (frequency of drinking days and number of drinks consumed per drinking day). In univariate analysis, consumption of alcohol exhibited a J-shaped association with risk of ESRD. The J shape disappeared after exclusion of persons who had ever consumed home-distilled whiskey ('moonshine') and adjustment for age, race, sex, income, history of hypertension, history of diabetes mellitus, use of acetaminophen, use of opiates, and cigarette smoking; however, the odds ratio for ESRD remained significantly increased (odds ratio = 4.0; 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 13.0) among persons who consumed an average of >2 alcoholic drinks per day. The corresponding population attributable risk was 9 percent. Thus, consumption of more than two alcoholic drinks per day, on average, was associated with an increased risk of kidney failure in the general population. A lower intake of alcohol did not appear to be harmful. Because these results are based on self-reports in a case-control study, they should be seen as preliminary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1275-1281
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 15 1999


  • Alcohol drinking
  • Chronic
  • Ethanol
  • Kidney failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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