Repository logo

A comprehensive evaluation of the longitudinal association between alcohol consumption and a measure of inflammation: Multiverse and vibration of effects analyses.

Accepted version

No Thumbnail Available



Change log


Visontay, Rachel 
Mewton, Louise 
Sunderland, Matthew 
Bell, Steven 
Britton, Annie 


BACKGROUND: Moderate alcohol consumption appears to be associated with reduced inflammation. Determining whether this association is robust to common variations in research parameters has wide-reaching implications for our understanding of disease aetiology and public health policy. We aimed to conduct comprehensive multiverse and vibration of effects analyses evaluating the associations between alcohol consumption and a measure of inflammation. METHODS: A secondary analysis of the 1970 British Birth Cohort Study was performed, using data from 1970 through 2016. Measurements of alcohol consumption were taken in early/mid-adulthood (ages 34 and 42), and level of inflammation marker high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) at age 46. Multiverse analyses were applied to comparisons of low-to-moderate consumption and consumption above various international drinking guidelines with an 'abstinent' reference. Research parameters of interest related to: definitions of drinking and reference groups; alcohol consumption measurement year; outcome variable transformation; and breadth of covariate adjustment. After identifying various analytic options within these parameters and running the analysis over each unique option combination, specification curve plots, volcano plots, effect ranges, and variance decomposition metrics were used to assess consistency of results. RESULTS: A total of 3101 individuals were included in the final analyses, with primary analyses limited to those where occasional consumers served as reference. All combinations of research specifications resulted in lower levels of inflammation amongst low-to-moderate consumers compared to occasional consumers (1st percentile effect: -0.21; 99th percentile effect: -0.04). Estimates comparing above-guidelines drinking with occasional consumers were less definitive (1st percentile effect: -0.26; 99th percentile effect: 0.43). CONCLUSIONS: The association between low-to-moderate drinking and lower hsCRP levels is largely robust to common variations in researcher-defined parameters, warranting further research to establish whether this relationship is causal. The association between above-guidelines drinking and hsCRP levels is less definitive.



Alcohol drinking, C-reactive protein, Inflammation, Multiverse, Vibration of effects, hsCRP, Humans, Adult, Middle Aged, Cohort Studies, Alcohol Drinking, C-Reactive Protein, Vibration, Inflammation

Journal Title

Drug Alcohol Depend

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Elsevier BV
This work was supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (GNT1190255), as well as by the University of Sydney.