Sex hormones in alcohol consumption: a systematic review of evidence

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Abstract

Sex hormones play an important role in establishing sex-distinctive brain structural and functional variations that could contribute to the sex differences in alcohol consumption behavior. Here, we systematically reviewed articles that studied sex hormone impacts on alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder (AUD). An extensive literature search conducted in MEDLINE, PubMed, Scopus and CINAHL databases identified 776 articles, which were then evaluated for pre-specified criteria for relevance and quality assurance. A total of 50 articles, including 19 human studies and 31 animal studies, were selected for this review. Existing evidence supports the association of increased testosterone level and increased risk for alcohol use and AUD in males but results are inconclusive in females. In contrast, the evidence supports the association of increased estrogen level and increased alcohol use in females, with mixed findings reported in males. Much less is known about the impact of progestins on alcohol use and misuse in human subjects. Future observational and experimental studies conducted in both sexes with a comprehensive hormone panel are needed to elucidate the impact of the interplay between various sex hormone levels during various developmental stages on alcohol use-related phenotypes and AUD.

Sex hormones play an important role in establishing the sex differences in alcohol consumption behavior. Here, we systematically reviewed articles that studied sex hormone impacts on alcohol consumption and alcohol use disorder. Among the 50 articles that fulfilled selection requirements, 19 were human studies and 31 were animal studies. Existing evidence supports associations between sex hormones and alcohol use, but such associations were different between sexes and among developmental stages. Future studies with improved methodologies may elucidate these associations.

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