Moderate alcohol intake linked to higher IgE in allergy patients

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Among patients seen in an allergy clinic, alcohol consumption even in moderate amounts is linked to an increase in total and specific IgE concentrations.

Dr. A. Gonzבlez-Quintela and colleagues, from the Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago in Spain, studied in 460 patients who presented to an allergy clinic for evaluation. On the basis of skin-prick test results, 325 patients were classified as atopic and 135 as nonatopic. Nearly 80% of the atopic patients were allergic to mites.

Total serum IgE was directly related to amount of alcohol consumed per week, the investigators report. Independent of age, sex, atopy classification, and smoking status, consumption of 70 g of alcohol or more per week was associated with increased total serum IgE levels. Among dust mite-allergic patients, regular alcohol consumers had higher dust mite-specific IgE levels than patients who abstained.

The reasons for the association between alcohol consumption and IgE levels are not known, the authors state in January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. One possibility is that alcohol causes a disruption of cytokines that ultimately results in increased IgE production.

"Molecular studies of alcohol-induced alterations of IgE synthesis, and population-based studies of the association of environmental exposures with IgE levels, are warranted," the investigators note. "In the latter, and specifically in those that analyze the interaction of smoking with IgE, the amount of regular alcohol consumption should be taken into account."

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