The Association between Alcohol Consumption and C-Reactive Protein Levels in College-Aged Individuals

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Life Sciences | Nutrition


Amy Olson, Nutrition


Current screening methods fail to identify over half of individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease. C-reactive protein [CRP], a marker for inflammation, is a new screening tool to improve the assessment of risk for cardiovascular disease and is influenced by alcohol consumption. This project examined the levels of C-reactive protein in college-aged individuals relative to alcohol consumption. College-aged individuals completed surveys which assessed factors that can affect CRP levels. Three groups, non-drinkers (N=6), moderate drinkers (N=10), and heavy drinkers (N=9), were matched based on survey responses. The average CRP level across all alcohol consumption patterns was 0.9 mg/L (low risk for cardiovascular disease). A J-shaped pattern emerged indicating that even in a young, otherwise healthy population, heavy drinking increases CRP levels. If CRP levels are predictive of future risk for cardiovascular disease, college-aged individuals may be beginning this pattern, which is an additional reason to be concerned about heavy drinking in college-aged individuals.