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Do Histamine-2 Receptor Antagonists Influence the Metabolism of Ethanol?

Michael D. Levitt, MD
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Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55417. Requests for Reprints: Michael D. Levitt, MD, Research Service, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417. Grant Support: In part by NIDDKD R01 DK13309-25 and by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1993;118(7):564-565. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-118-7-199304010-00013
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It has been claimed that ingested ethanol is metabolized during absorption through the gastric mucosa, and inhibition of this metabolism by certain histamine-2 (H-2) receptor antagonists enhances the blood alcohol response to small doses of ethanol. In this issue of the Annals, however, Raufman and coworkers convincingly demonstrate that none of the commercially available H-2 antagonists had a perceptible effect on blood ethanol concentrations after ingestion of 0.3 g/kg of body weight of ethanol, roughly the quantity in a bottle of 6% beer. This editorial reviews how and if ethanol metabolism might be influenced by H-2 antagonists and concludes that the stomach probably is not an important site of ethanol metabolism and that the interaction between H-2 antagonists and ethanol is clinically insignificant.

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