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Keywords:

  • alcohol;
  • epidemiology;
  • respiratory hypersensitivity;
  • skin prick test;
  • specific IgE;
  • total IgE

Summary

Background Several studies in patient populations have reported a positive association between alcohol consumption and serum total IgE. Furthermore, we have previously reported a positive association between alcohol consumption and the prevalence of skin prick test (SPT positivity) to inhalant allergens in a population-based cross-sectional study.

Objective To investigate the relationship of alcohol consumption to levels of serum total IgE and the development of IgE sensitization to inhalant allergens.

Methods In 1990, self-reported consumption of alcohol, serum total IgE, SPT positivity and specific IgE positivity to inhalant allergens were assessed in 1112 subjects, aged 15–69 years, participating in a population-based cross-sectional study in Copenhagen, Denmark. In 1998, they were invited to a follow-up and 734 were re-examined (participation rate 69.0%). Adjustment for potential confounders was performed by using multivariable regression analyses.

Results In non-atopic (specific IgE negative) subjects there was a positive association between alcohol consumption and the concentration of total IgE (P = 0.001). During the follow-up period, 45 and 33 subjects developed SPT positivity and specific IgE positivity, respectively. There was no significant association between alcohol consumption and the development of SPT positivity or specific IgE positivity. However, the risk of developing SPT positivity tended to increase with increasing consumption of alcohol (P = 0.055).

Conclusions This epidemiological study confirms that alcohol consumption has an influence on levels of serum total IgE. A significant association between alcohol consumption and the development of IgE sensitization was not established. However, there seems to be a lack epidemiological data on this issue.