Patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) who are heavy alcohol consumers are more likely than non-drinkers to experience rapid progression of their disease, according to a new study published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

In a Korean study of 1883 patients with CKD,  a team led by Seung Hyeok Han, MD, PhD, of the College of Medicine, Institute of Kidney Disease Research, Yonsei University, Seoul, demonstrated that regular and occasional binge drinking were significantly associated with a 2.2- and 2.0-fold increased risk of CKD progression, respectively. The investigators defined CKD progression as a composite of a 50% or greater decline in estimated glomerular filtration rate from baseline or end-stage renal disease.

The study population had a mean age of 54 years. Of the 1883 patients, 1162 (61.7%) were men. Dr Han’s team classified patients into 5 groups: non-drinking, occasional moderate drinking (less than 6 drinks per week and less than 5 drinks per occasion), regular moderate drinking (6 or more drinks per week and less than 5 drinks per occasion), occasional binge drinking (less than 6 drinks per week and 5 or more drinks per occasion), and regular binge drinking (6 or more drinks per week and 5 or more drinks per occasion.

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The risk of the composite outcome did not differ significantly between non-drinkers and occasional moderate or regular moderate drinkers.

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The authors noted that alcohol consumption can interfere with electrolyte and acid-base balance and body fluids, which can adversely impact kidney function. “Unlike healthy adults, patients with CKD are vulnerable to such imbalances in homeostatic status, rendering an unfavorable environment for the kidney,” they wrote. “In addition, heavy alcohol consumption has been strongly linked to hypertension in both men and women in many prospective studies.”


Joo YS, Koh H, Nam KH, et al. Alcohol consumption and progression of chronic kidney disease: Results from the Korean Cohort Study for Outcome in Patients with Chronic Kidney Disease [published online December 26, 2019]. Mayo Clin Proceed.

doi: 10.1016/j.mayocp.2019.06.014