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Alcohol and HIV Effects on the Immune System

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) and HIV infection both affect the immune system and frequently coexist in the same person, potentially multiplying the risk of infectious disease. Infectious disease, in turn, continues to be a major health concern and leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, despite major advances in our understanding of the immune system, improvements in sanitation...

Focus On: Ethnicity and the Social and Health Harms From Drinking

Research has shown differential social and health effects from alcohol use across U.S. ethnic groups, including Whites, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The relationship of ethnicity to alcohol-related social and health harms partially is attributed to the different rates and patterns of drinking across ethnicities. Some ethnic groups have higher rates of alcohol consumption...

Alcohol's Effect on Host Defense

Alcohol has been the most common substance of use and abuse in human history. Moderate amounts of alcohol are enjoyed for its anxiolytic effects; however, its addictive properties can lead to chronic, excessive alcohol use and alcohol use disorder. In addition to its commonly recognized behavioral effects, alcohol affects many organs, including the immune system that controls the body’s defense...

Impact of Alcohol Abuse on the Adaptive Immune System

In the United States, alcohol use disorder (AUD) is the third-leading cause of preventable death. It is associated with increased susceptibility to bacterial pneumonia; viral infections, such as HIV and hepatitis C virus (HCV); and increased postoperative morbidity and mortality. This increased susceptibility is mediated in part by functional alterations in various cells of the immune system...

Alcohol and the Immune System - Editor's Note

Clinicians have long observed an association between excessive alcohol consumption and adverse immune-related health effects such as susceptibility to pneumonia. In recent decades, this association has been expanded to a greater likelihood of acute respiratory stress syndromes (ARDS), sepsis, alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and certain cancers; a higher incidence of postoperative complications...

Women and Alcohol - From the Editors

Recent epidemiological research has identified alarming trends in drinking patterns of girls and women in the United States. In recent years, the amount and frequency of alcohol use are increasing in White and Hispanic girls and young women in contrast to decreasing patterns of heavy alcohol use in boys and young men.1,2 Similarly, current and binge alcohol use is rising among older women,3,4 resu...

Measuring the Burden - Editor's Note

Alcohol use is associated with tremendous costs to the drinker, those around him or her, and society as a whole. These costs result from the increased health risks (both physical and mental) associated with alcohol consumption as well as from the social harms caused by alcohol. This issue of Alcohol Research: Current Reviews examines the public health impact of alcohol consumption, looking at the...

Prenatal Alcohol Exposure and the Developing Immune System

Most Americans are aware that drinking alcohol during pregnancy can injure the developing fetus. Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), with their developmental, cognitive, and behavioral consequences, probably are the best known dangers (Bakoyiannis et al. 2014; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] 2009). However, drinking during pregnancy also can...

Alcohol-Related Disparities Among Women: Evidence and Potential Explanations

Although research on alcohol-related disparities among women is a highly understudied area, evidence shows that racial/ethnic minority women, sexual minority women, and women of low socioeconomic status (based on education, income, or residence in disadvantaged neighborhoods) are more likely to experience alcohol-related problems. These problems include alcohol use disorder, particularly after...

The Influence of Gender and Sexual Orientation on Alcohol Use and Alcohol-Related Problems: Toward a Global Perspective

The prevalence of alcohol use and the contrast between the drinking patterns of men and women vary widely across the globe. For instance, rates of current drinking ranged from 3 percent and 37 percent for women and men, respectively, in the Indian state of Karnataka to 94 percent and 97 percent for women and men in Denmark (Wilsnack et al. 2009). Overall, however, men have higher rates of...