Funding: K01 AA024832
Alcohol-related health problems include highly prevalent and serious disorders such as hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Substantial evidence supports a J-shaped relationship between alcohol use and diabetes, whereas a linear relationship is well-documented between alcohol use and hypertension, and there is mixed evidence regarding the shape of the relationship between alcohol use and depression. A common biologic mechanism for alcohol’s effects on these disorders may be inflammation. Inflammation is a general response by the immune system to harm, such as bodily injury or exposure to irritants (e.g. alcohol). Inflammation that becomes chronic, potentially lasting for years, is associated with an increased risk of health problems, including hypertension, diabetes, and depression. Thus, intervening on inflammation offers new opportunities for prevention and treatment. However, the mechanisms of inflammation in the context of alcohol use and health require further study. Racial/ethnic health disparities are especially relevant in this context because racial/ethnic minorities share a disproportionately large portion of the burden caused by these disorders. Moreover, recent studies show racial/ethnic minorities have consistently higher levels of inflammation, and these differences have been observed across the lifespan.
This project involves two studies (A & B) with two aims each. Study A is a secondary analysis of data from Waves I-V of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (AddHealth). Study B entails primary pilot data collection via self-administered dried blood spots (saDBS) from a subsample of the 2020 National Alcohol Survey (NAS).
Study A, Aim I: Describes the longitudinal relationships between alcohol use, inflammation, and health outcomes (hypertension, diabetes, and depression).
Study A, Aim II: Describes how race/ethnicity impacts alcohol’s effects on health via inflammation and the roles of environmental stressors and unhealthy behaviors.
Study B, Aim I: Pilot tests the use of a novel biosample collection method (self-administered dried blood spots (saDBS)).
Study B, Aim II: Explores additional immune markers relevant to the relationships between alcohol use, inflammation and health across racial/ethnic groups in a nationally representative adult sample.