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ANSWERED on Tue 22 May 2007 - 12:04 pm UTC by David Sarokin

Question: beta Thalassemia minor/intermedia and blood alcohol levels

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 19 May 2007 04:13 UTCSat 19 May 2007 - 4:13 am UTC 

To what extent would beta Thalassemia (minor/intermedia) effect blood alcohol levels?


John E 


 20 May 2007 07:34 UTCSun 20 May 2007 - 7:34 am UTC 


Since there's been no response to your question for awhile, I thought I'd let you know that my searches didn't reveal any specific relationship between Thalassemia and blood alcohol levels.

What I did find were indications that those with this condition should avoid excessive use of alcohol in order to preclude weakening the immune system and thereby promoting infection and/or fever.



Toby Lee Spiegel 


 20 May 2007 16:10 UTCSun 20 May 2007 - 4:10 pm UTC 

Hi jat,

PubMed posts an article that refers to a patient with thalassemia minor who ingested 80 g of alcohol a day who presented with an overlod of iron with deposits and a hepatic iron ration compatible with primary hemochromatosis.    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=1762461&dopt=Abstract

Med Clin (Barc). 1991 Nov 16;97(17):660-2.

[Thalassemia minor with iron overload: genetic and clinical study of a family]

[Article in Spanish]

Queipo de Llano MP, Yebra M, Moreno M, Lacoma F, Gea JC, Berrocal E.

Servicio de Hematologia, Clinica Puerta de Hierro, Universidad Autonoma, Madrid.

"A patient with thalassemia minor (TM) is reported who ingested 80 g of alcohol/day and presented an important overload of iron with deposits and a hepatic iron ratio compatible with primary hemochromatosis. The results obtained from the study of histocompatibility antigens, clinical manifestations and family analysis discarded the possibility of two genetic diseases, beta-thalassemia and primary hemochromatosis, being concomitantly present in the same progeny. Thalassemia minor and alcoholic hepatopathy are considered as having acted together and being responsible for the iron overload. The relation between alcohol ingested, TM and iron deposits is discussed."

Let me know if this information is satisfactory for your needs.





 20 May 2007 16:34 UTCSun 20 May 2007 - 4:34 pm UTC 

Since Thalassemia (minor/intermedia) is characterized by smaller RBCs, that would mean the hematocrit is quite a bit lower than normal.  That would mean the plasma level of the blood would be higher and, since alcohol apparently has an affinity for water, then I'm guessing more alcohol would find its way into the blood per given unit amount consumed than with a "normal" person.  That, in turn, would cause a person to breathe a higher reading on a breathalyzer test.  This is my speculation.  I'd like to know if I'm on track here.  Capice?...


David Sarokin 


 22 May 2007 12:04 UTCTue 22 May 2007 - 12:04 pm UTC 


It appears that your speculation is very much on the right track. 

I did not come across any information on the web, or in legal databases, that specifically discusses Thalassemia and blood alcohol levels, 

However, Thalassemia leads to anemia, and there is certainly information on anemia in the context of blood alcohol levels.  In particular, anemia alters the typical hematoocrit readings, which in turn, can throw off some measures of blood alcohol.

Here are some links on this topic:

The Effect of Anemia on Breath Tests

...A person suffering from anemia has a low red blood cell count, perhaps half as much as would be normal. Put simply, when there are fewer red blood cells, the body will increase the amount of plasma to fill the void....It follows that the higher the ratio of liquid to solids in the blood (called the hematocrit), the higher the amount of alcohol in the blood — and the higher will be the reading on the breathalyzer. ...In other words, a person with a true BAC of .09% but a hematocrit of 54% would test on an otherwise “accurate” machine as .11%. Just because he/she is anemic — or simply varies from the statistical norm.

Blood Hematocrit

...Yet another potential source of error in breath-alcohol analysis involves the variability in the composition of the blood.

I trust this information provides just the sort of resources you were looking for regarding a connection between Thalassemia and blood alcohol levels.

However, if there's anything more I can do for you on this, just let me know by posting a Clarification request, and I'm at your service.

All the best,





 22 May 2007 15:41 UTCTue 22 May 2007 - 3:41 pm UTC 

Got your answer.  I've already seen one or both of these sources (actually, although I understand the point they try to make, I'm not sure they were working with the right kind of numbers).  In any event, I was hoping to see something re: thalassemia.  Oh well.

I'm really glad you've got Uclue going.  I was a regular user of Google Answers and hope to make a lot of use of your service in the future.  If you get a stable of crackerjack researchers around you, I can't help but think you'll do well.

P.S.  Is "crabcakes" working with you?...


David Sarokin 


 22 May 2007 16:14 UTCTue 22 May 2007 - 4:14 pm UTC 


I don't want to leave you hanging on this, so please let me know if there's anything more I can do for you. 

I checked the internet, as well as Lexis-Nexis legal sources, for information directly relating to Thalassemia, but there simply doesn't appear to be anything regarding blood alcohol content.

However, if the more general info on anemia seems off the mark to you, I'll be glad to keep digging.  Just let me know why the links I provided give you pause, and I'll see if there is any alternative information out there.

Thanks for your kind remarks about Uclue. We're pretty excited, too.





 23 May 2007 00:35 UTCWed 23 May 2007 - 12:35 am UTC 

Crabcakes is still around! I am out of town now, but if you have a question for me, feel free to ask on in a few days! Thanks for asking!




 27 Aug 2009 00:39 UTCThu 27 Aug 2009 - 12:39 am UTC 

I am a medical layman but thought you would be interested to know of my
Asian wife who suffers from beta thalassemia and the effect on her of alcohol.
The apparent effect on her is dependent on the degree of alcohol intake, her general well-being at the time and like most people varies with the time and amount of food intake.Obviously there are other variables which one can only summise.
However, there are occasions when after drinking only ONE glass of wine, she has all but passed-out (certainly into a semi-conscious state)and has felt sickly for one or two days after.I firmly believe this is due to Thalassemia.
She has had a raft of other tests at our local private hospital to eliminate other conditions that could contribute to this alcohol intolerance.
You should be aware,however, that there are also times when 2 or 3 glasses of wine have only a "usual" effect.

I would be glad to reply to any questions



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