Original Contribution

The American Journal of Gastroenterology (2002) 97, 2750–2755; doi:10.1111/j.1572-0241.2002.07064.x

Inverse relationship between alcohol consumption and active Helicobacter pylori infection: the Bristol Helicobacter project

Liam J Murray MD1, Athene J Lane PhD2, Ian M Harvey PhD3, Jenny L Donovan PhD2, Prakash Nair MD4 and Richard F Harvey MD5

  1. 1The Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, United Kingdom
  2. 2Department of Social Medicine, University of Bristol, Bristol, United Kingdom
  3. 3University of East Anglia, School of Health Policy and Practice, Norwich, United Kingdom
  4. 4Peterborough District Hospital, Thorpe Road, Peterborough, United Kingdom
  5. 5Frenchay Hospital, North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom

Correspondence: Liam Murray, MD, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology and Public Health, The Queen's University of Belfast, Mulhouse Building, Grosvenor Road, Belfast B12 6BJ, United Kingdom.

Received 8 January 2002; Accepted 25 June 2002.





The aim of this study was to examine whether smoking or consumption of alcohol or coffee is associated with active Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection.



This was a cross-sectional population study conducted as part of a randomized controlled trial of H. pylori infection eradication in southwest England. A total of 10,537 subjects, recruited from seven general practices, underwent 13C-urea breath testing for active infection with H. pylori and provided data on smoking, usual weekly consumption of alcohol, and daily intake of coffee.



Smoking or coffee consumption were not related to active H. pylori infection. Total alcohol consumption was associated with a small, but not statistically significant, decrease in the odds of infection. After adjustment for age, sex, ethnic status, childhood and adult social class, smoking, coffee consumption, and intake of alcoholic beverages other than wine, subjects drinking 3–6 units of wine/wk had an 11% lower risk of H. pylori infection compared with those who took no wine: OR = 0.89, 95% CI = 0.80–0.99. Higher wine consumption was associated with a further 6% reduction in the risk of infection: OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.64–1.07. Intake of 3–6 units of beer (but no greater intake) was associated with a similar reduction in the risk of infection when compared to no beer intake (OR = 0.83, 95% CI = 0.75–0.91).



This study indicates that modest consumption of wine and beer (approximately 7 units/wk) protects against H. pylori infection, presumably by facilitating eradication of the organism.