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Hematologic complications of alcohol use

Stanley L Schrier, MD
Section Editor
William C Mentzer, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer S Tirnauer, MD


Excessive alcohol use can affect multiple organ systems. The hematologic manifestations of alcohol use, including effects on red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, will be discussed here.

The general subject of alcohol-associated disease is discussed separately. (See "Pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of alcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic cirrhosis" and "Ethanol intoxication in adults".)


Amount of alcohol consumed — For an adult, chronic consumption of more than 80 grams of alcohol per day, which translates into a daily intake of approximately 250 mL of hard liquor, more than 500 mL of fortified wine, one bottle (750 mL) of table wine, or 1.5 liters of beer (four 12-ounce cans or bottles), has fairly reproducible effects on the hematologic system.

Some "supersized alcopops" have an ethanol content equivalent to 5.5 standard drinks. When tested in young adults, consuming a single can over two hours can raise the blood alcohol level above 0.08 g/dL. There are no reports on the hematologic consequences [1].

Additional information about alcohol use disorder and risky drinking, including amount of alcohol and other features, are presented separately. (See "Risky drinking and alcohol use disorder: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis" and "Screening for unhealthy use of alcohol and other drugs in primary care".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Jun 19, 2017.
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