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The effects of moderate alcohol supplementation on estrone sulfate and DHEAS in postmenopausal women in a controlled feeding study

Somdat Mahabir1*, David J Baer, Laura L Johnson1, Joanne F Dorgan2, William Campbell3, Ellen Brown3, Terryl J Hartman4, Beverly Clevidence3, Demetrius Albanes5, Joseph T Judd3 and Philip R Taylor1

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Prevention Studies Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

2 Population Science Division, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA

3 Human Nutrition Research Center, Agriculture Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, MD, USA

4 Department of Nutrition, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USA

5 Nutritional Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2004, 3:11  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-3-11

Published: 7 September 2004



We have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption (15 g/d, 30 g/d) for 8 weeks resulted in significantly increased levels of serum estrone sulfate and DHEAS in 51 postmenopausal women in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. We now report on the relationships between serum estrone sulfate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) levels after 4 weeks of moderate alcohol supplementation, and compare the results to the 8 weeks data to elucidate time-to-effect differences.


Postmenopausal women (n = 51) consumed 0 (placebo), 15 (1 drink), and 30 (2 drinks) g alcohol (ethanol)/ day for 8 weeks as part of a controlled diet in a randomized crossover design. Blood samples were drawn at baseline, at 4 weeks and at 8 weeks. Changes in estrone sulfate and DHEAS levels from placebo to 15 g and 30 g alcohol per day were estimated using linear mixed models.

Results and Discussion

At week 4, compared to the placebo, estrone sulfate increased an average 6.9% (P = 0.24) when the women consumed 15 g of alcohol per day, and 22.2% (P = 0.0006) when they consumed 30 g alcohol per day. DHEAS concentrations also increased significantly by an average of 8.0% (P < 0.0001) on 15 g of alcohol per day and 9.2% (P < 0.0001) when 30 g alcohol was consumed per day. Trend tests across doses for both estrone sulfate (P = 0.0006) and DHEAS (P < 0.0001) were significant. We found no significant differences between the absolute levels of serum estrone sulfate at week 4 versus week 8 (P = 0.32) across all doses. However, absolute DHEAS levels increased from week 4 to week 8 (P < 0.0001) at all three dose levels.


These data indicate that the hormonal effects due to moderate alcohol consumption are seen early, within 4 weeks of initiation of ingestion.

Alcohol; Hormones; Postmenopausal women