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Research Summary

Type of Alcoholic Beverage Consumed Affects Acute Pancreatitis Risk

A follow-up study was conducted using data from the Swedish Mammography Cohort and the Cohort of Swedish Men to examine the association between consumption of spirits, wine, and beer and the risk of acute pancreatitis. In total, 84,601 individuals aged 46–84 years were followed for a median of 10 years. During that time, 513 subjects developed acute pancreatitis.

  • There was a dose-response association between the amount of spirits consumed on a single occasion and the risk of acute pancreatitis. The multivariable adjusted risk ratio (RR) was 1.52 for every increment of 5 standard drinks* of spirits consumed on a single occasion.
  • No association was found between acute pancreatitis risk and consumption of wine or beer, frequency of consumption (including spirits), or average total monthly consumption.
*Standard drink=12 g ethanol in this study.


Although acute pancreatitis is associated with alcohol consumption, previous research indicates the risk is low. The authors suggest the increased risk from spirits shown in this study may relate to a lack of antioxidants, which are present in other types of alcoholic beverages, or to other constituents in spirits such as long-chain alcohols that have been shown to be more potent than ethanol in inducing oxidative stress. However, the data suggest those that drank spirits in this study may have consumed more alcohol per occasion, leading to higher blood-alcohol levels. This may be more important than type of beverage in increasing risk of pancreatitis. R. Curtis Ellison, MD


Sadr Azodi O, Orsini N, Andrén-Sandberg A, et al. Effect of type of alcoholic beverage in causing acute pancreatitis. Br J Surg. 2011;98(11):1609–1616.