Results from a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology suggest that an inverse relationship exists between alcohol consumption and risk for Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection.

Investigators searched the PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science databases from inception through February 2021 for studies describing the association between H pylori infection and alcohol consumption. Study quality was assessed using the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Scale and the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, depending on study design. Random-effects models were used to estimate the effects of alcohol on H pylori infection likelihood.

In total, 24 studies were included in the meta-analysis: 1 case-control and 23 cross-sectional studies. Sample sizes ranged from 139 to 9733 individuals. The majority of studies were conducted in European populations; 4 were conducted in East Asia.

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In the pooled patient cohort, drinking was associated with reduced risk for H pylori infection (odds ratio [OR], 0.83; 95% CI, 0.76-0.91; P =.0001). Seven studies provided a breakdown of consumption by alcohol type. In subgroup analyses, mixed alcoholic drinks (OR, 0.78; 95% CI, 0.70-0.86; P <.00001) and wine (OR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.83-0.98; P =.01) had a more significant effect on infection risk than beer.

Among patients aged 40 years or older, alcohol consumption was associated with substantially lower risk for infection (OR, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.55-0.83). However, this relationship was not observed for patients aged less than 40 years. Overall, women appeared to be at lower risk than men for H pylori infection (OR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.80-0.92; P <.0001), though data were insufficient to evaluate the relationship between alcohol consumption, sex, and infection risk.

Authors noted that the majority of studies were conducted in White populations, thus limiting generalizability to other groups. Additionally, only a portion of studies provided data on the age and sex of patients.

Per these results, patients who report alcohol consumption may have a lower risk for H pylori infection. Investigators hypothesized that alcohol may compromise the living conditions for H pylori in the gut. “Overall, there is an inverse correlation between alcohol consumption and H. pylori infection,” investigators wrote. “Nonetheless, we discourage reducing H. pylori infection through drinking, which increases the risk of other diseases.” Instead, study data may provide insight into the conditions of H pylori infection and eradication.


Du P, Zhang C, Wang A, Ma Z, Shen S, Li X. Association of alcohol drinking and Helicobacter pylori infection: a meta-analysis. J Clin Gastroenterol. Published online December 15, 2021. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001638

This article originally appeared on Infectious Disease Advisor