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      The association between alcohol use, alcohol use disorders and tuberculosis (TB). A systematic review


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          In 2004, tuberculosis (TB) was responsible for 2.5% of global mortality (among men 3.1%; among women 1.8%) and 2.2% of global burden of disease (men 2.7%; women 1.7%). The present work portrays accumulated evidence on the association between alcohol consumption and TB with the aim to clarify the nature of the relationship.


          A systematic review of existing scientific data on the association between alcohol consumption and TB, and on studies relevant for clarification of causality was undertaken.


          There is a strong association between heavy alcohol use/alcohol use disorders (AUD) and TB. A meta-analysis on the risk of TB for these factors yielded a pooled relative risk of 2.94 (95% CI: 1.89-4.59). Numerous studies show pathogenic impact of alcohol on the immune system causing susceptibility to TB among heavy drinkers. In addition, there are potential social pathways linking AUD and TB. Heavy alcohol use strongly influences both the incidence and the outcome of the disease and was found to be linked to altered pharmacokinetics of medicines used in treatment of TB, social marginalization and drift, higher rate of re-infection, higher rate of treatment defaults and development of drug-resistant forms of TB. Based on the available data, about 10% of the TB cases globally were estimated to be attributable to alcohol.


          The epidemiological and other evidence presented indicates that heavy alcohol use/AUD constitute a risk factor for incidence and re-infection of TB. Consequences for prevention and clinical interventions are discussed.

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          Alcohol and public health.

          Alcoholic beverages, and the problems they engender, have been familiar fixtures in human societies since the beginning of recorded history. We review advances in alcohol science in terms of three topics: the epidemiology of alcohol's role in health and illness; the treatment of alcohol use disorders in a public health perspective; and policy research and options. Research has contributed substantially to our understanding of the relation of drinking to specific disorders, and has shown that the relation between alcohol consumption and health outcomes is complex and multidimensional. Alcohol is causally related to more than 60 different medical conditions. Overall, 4% of the global burden of disease is attributable to alcohol, which accounts for about as much death and disability globally as tobacco and hypertension. Treatment research shows that early intervention in primary care is feasible and effective, and a variety of behavioural and pharmacological interventions are available to treat alcohol dependence. This evidence suggests that treatment of alcohol-related problems should be incorporated into a public health response to alcohol problems. Additionally, evidence-based preventive measures are available at both the individual and population levels, with alcohol taxes, restrictions on alcohol availability, and drinking-driving countermeasures among the most effective policy options. Despite the scientific advances, alcohol problems continue to present a major challenge to medicine and public health, in part because population-based public health approaches have been neglected in favour of approaches oriented to the individual that tend to be more palliative than preventative.
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            Substance abuse and dependence in prisoners: a systematic review.

            To review studies of the prevalence of substance abuse and dependence in prisoners on reception into custody. A systematic review of studies measuring the prevalence of drug and alcohol abuse and dependence in male and female prisoners on reception into prison was conducted. Only studies using standardized diagnostic criteria were included. Relevant information, such as mean age, gender and type of prisoner, was recorded for eligible studies. The prevalence estimates were compared with those from large cross-sectional studies of prevalence in prison populations. Thirteen studies with a total of 7563 prisoners met the review criteria. There was substantial heterogeneity among the studies. The estimates of prevalence for alcohol abuse and dependence in male prisoners ranged from 18 to 30% and 10 to 24% in female prisoners. The prevalence estimates of drug abuse and dependence varied from 10 to 48% in male prisoners and 30 to 60% in female prisoners. The prevalence of substance abuse and dependence, although highly variable, is typically many orders of magnitude higher in prisoners than the general population, particularly for women with drug problems. This highlights the need for screening for substance abuse and dependence at reception into prison, effective treatment while in custody, and follow-up on release. Specialist addiction services for prisoners have the potential to make a considerable impact.
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              The relationship of average volume of alcohol consumption and patterns of drinking to burden of disease: an overview.

              As part of a larger study to estimate the global burden of disease attributable to alcohol: to quantify the relationships between average volume of alcohol consumption, patterns of drinking and disease and injury outcomes, and to combine exposure and risk estimates to determine regional and global alcohol-attributable fractions (AAFs) for major disease and injury categories. DESIGN, METHODS, SETTING: Systematic literature reviews were used to select diseases related to alcohol consumption. Meta-analyses of the relationship between alcohol consumption and disease and multi-level analyses of aggregate data to fill alcohol-disease relationships not currently covered by individual-level data were used to determine the risk relationships between alcohol and disease. AAFs were estimated as a function of prevalence of exposure and relative risk, or from combining the aggregate multi-level analyses with prevalence data. Average volume of alcohol consumption was found to increase risk for the following major chronic diseases: mouth and oropharyngeal cancer; oesophageal cancer; liver cancer; breast cancer; unipolar major depression; epilepsy; alcohol use disorders; hypertensive disease; hemorrhagic stroke; and cirrhosis of the liver. Coronary heart disease (CHD), unintentional and intentional injuries were found to depend on patterns of drinking in addition to average volume of alcohol consumption. Most effects of alcohol on disease were detrimental, but for certain patterns of drinking, a beneficial influence on CHD, stroke and diabetes mellitus was observed. Alcohol is related to many major disease outcomes, mainly in a detrimental fashion. While average volume of consumption was related to all disease and injury categories under consideration, pattern of drinking was found to be an additional influencing factor for CHD and injury. The influence of patterns of drinking may be underestimated because pattern measures have not been included in many epidemiologic studies. Generalizability of the results is limited by methodological problems of the underlying studies used in the present analyses. Future studies need to address these methodological issues in order to obtain more accurate risk estimates.

                Author and article information

                BMC Public Health
                BMC Public Health
                BioMed Central
                5 December 2009
                : 9
                : 450
                [1 ]Public Health and Regulatory Policies, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada
                [3 ]Head WHO Collaboration Centre for Substance Abuse, Zurich, Switzerland
                [4 ]Epidemiological Research Unit, Klinische Psychologie & Psychotherapie, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
                [5 ]In Vitro Drug Safety and Biotechnology, Department of Pharmacology, Institute of Drug Research, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
                [6 ]Centre for International Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
                [7 ]School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
                [8 ]AER Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia
                [9 ]Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Unit, Medical Research Council, Cape Town, South Africa
                [10 ]Department of Psychiatry, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa
                [11 ]Stop TB Department, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
                [12 ]Management of Substance Abuse, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland
                [13 ]Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, Canada
                Copyright ©2009 Rehm et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Public health
                Public health


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