Link between alcohol and blood pressure greater than previously thought

March 4, 2008

Previous observational studies have reported that heavy alcohol intake is a risk factor for hypertension but such studies may be confounded by factors such as diet, smoking, exercise levels and socio-economic position. Clinical trials exploring the link are difficult to implement and have limited follow-up time.

The Bristol study, led by Dr Sarah Lewis of the University’s Department of Social Medicine, took a different approach focused on people who have a mutation on a gene which affects their body’s ability to eliminate alcohol.

Alcohol is initially metabolised to an intermediate compound, acetaldehyde, which is further metabolised and then eliminated from the body. The major enzyme responsible for this elimination is alcohol dehydrohenase 2 (ALDH2).

In some people, a genetic mutation leads to an inability to metabolize acetaldehyde and causes an accumulation of acetaldehyde after alcohol intake. This mutation is common in some Asian populations and results in facial flushing after consumption of alcohol coupled with intense nausea, drowsiness, headache and other unpleasant symptoms. People with this mutation therefore drink much less than those without it

The researchers looked at the ALDH2 genotype, comparing the blood pressure of those who have this mutation – the *2 *2 genotype – with those who do not – the *1 *1 genotype.

The study found that individuals with the *1 *1 genotype, who had an alcohol intake of around 3 units per day, had strikingly higher blood pressure than those with the *2 *2 genotype, who tend to drink only very small amounts, or no alcohol.

Dr Lewis said: “This study shows that alcohol intake may increase blood pressure to a much greater extent, even among moderate drinkers, than previously thought. Large-scale replication studies are required to confirm this finding and to improve the precision of our estimates.”

Source: University of Bristol

Explore further: The mu opioid receptor genotype may be a marker for those who drink for alcohol's rewarding effects

Related Stories

Asians fighting alcoholism may benefit from new study

September 27, 2011

(Medical Xpress) -- New UCLA psychology research indicates that Asians who are struggling with alcoholism may benefit especially from naltrexone, one of three medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ...

Recommended for you

Vitamin D supplements could help pain management

May 23, 2017

Vitamin D supplementation combined with good sleeping habits may help manage pain-related diseases. This paper published in the Journal of Endocrinology, reviews published research on the relationship between vitamin D levels, ...

Recommended daily protein intake too low for the elderly

May 23, 2017

You can find the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) on the nutrition labels of all your processed food. Food manufacturers are obliged to list the nutritional value of their products, and therefore must mention the percent ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.