Influence of alcohol on gastrointestinal motility: lactulose breath hydrogen testing in orocecal transit time in chronic alcoholics, social drinkers and teetotaler subjects.Hepatogastroenterology. 1997 Jul-Aug; 44(16):1076-81.H
The gastrointestinal tract is directly affected by the ingestion of alcohol. While the effect of acute ingestion of alcohol on the motility of the small intestine is well known, the influence of chronic intake of moderate amounts of alcohol and chronic alcoholism on gastrointestinal motility remains poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine the orocecal transit (OCt) times in patients with chronic alcoholism and in "social drinkers" and compare them with a group of healthy teetotaler subjects, to assess the effects of chronic aleohol consumption on gastrointestinal transit through the application of a non-invasive technique: the hydrogen breath test.
Thirty-one alcoholics were enrolled in the study. The control groups consisted of 31 healthy social drinkers and 24 healthy teetotaler subjects. OCt time was assessed using the hydrogen breath test after the administration of 10 g of lactulose.
The OCt time in patients with alcoholism was significantly delayed as compared with the social drinkers (p < 0.001) and healthy teetotaler subjects (p < 0.001); the OCt time in social drinkers was significantly longer than in healthy teetotaler subjects (p < 0.05). In the alcoholic group, there was no significant correlation between the OCt time and daily alcohol intake or years of alcohol addiction.
Our results show a significant prolongation of the OCt time, both in patients with alcoholism and in social drinkers, as compared to teetotaler subjects. Our findings of an increased OCt time related to the consumption of alcohol could support the hypothesis of the toxic effect of ethanol on smooth muscle contractile proteins of the small intestine and on vagal function.