Modest Alcohol Consumption Lowers Risk and Severity of Liver Disease

20 Apr 2012 --- Schwimmer and colleagues discovered that the benefits of modest alcohol consumption were compelling, at least in terms of reducing the odds of patients with NAFLD from developing more severe forms of the disease.

20 April 2012 --- People with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NALFD) who consume alcohol in modest amounts – no more than one or two servings per day – are half as likely to develop hepatitis as non-drinkers with the same condition, reports a national team of scientists led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

The findings are published in the April 19, 2012 online issue of The Journal of Hepatology.

NALFD is the most common liver disease in the United States, affecting up to one third of American adults. It's characterized by abnormal fat accumulation in the liver. The specific cause or causes is not known, though obesity and diabetes are risk factors. Most patients with NAFLD have few or no symptoms, but in its most progressive form, known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH, there is a significantly heightened risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver-related death.

NALFD is also a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Patients with NAFLD are approximately two times more likely to die from coronary heart disease than from liver disease. The study's authors wanted to know if the well-documented heart-healthy benefits of modest alcohol consumption outweighed alcohol's negative effects.

"We know a 50-year-old patient with NAFLD has a higher risk of CVD," said Jeffrey Schwimmer, MD, associate professor of clinical pediatrics at UC San Diego, director of the Fatty Liver Clinic at Rady Children's Hospital-San Diego and senior author. "Data would suggest modest alcohol consumption would be beneficial (in reducing the patient's CVD risk) if you don't take liver disease into account. When you do take liver disease into account, however, the usual medical recommendation is no alcohol whatsoever."

Schwimmer and colleagues discovered that the benefits of modest alcohol consumption were compelling, at least in terms of reducing the odds of patients with NAFLD from developing more severe forms of the disease. Patients with NASH are 10 times more likely to progress to cirrhosis, the final phase of chronic liver disease. Cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death in the U.S., killing an estimated 27,000 Americans annually.

"Our study showed that those people with modest alcohol intake – two drinks or less daily – had half the odds of developing NASH than people who drank no alcohol," said Schwimmer. "The reasons aren't entirely clear. It's known that alcohol can have beneficial effects on lipid levels, that it increases 'good' cholesterol, which tends to be low in NAFLD patients. Alcohol may improve insulin sensitivity, which has a role in NAFLD. And depending upon the type of alcohol, it may have anti-inflammatory effects."

The study also found that in patients with NAFLD, modest drinkers experienced less severe liver scarring than did lifelong non-drinkers.

The study did not evaluate the effects of different types of alcohol, such as beer or spirits. Schwimmer said to do so would require a much larger study. Also, the study's findings do not apply to children. All of the participants in the study were age 21 and older.

The current paper is based on analyses of 600 liver biopsies of patient's with NAFLD by a national panel of pathologists who had no identifying clinical information about the samples. The study excluded anyone who averaged more than two alcoholic drinks per day or who reported consuming five or more drinks in a day (binge-drinking) at least once a month. All of the patients were at least 21 years of age.

Schwimmer said the findings indicate patients with liver disease should be treated individually, with nuance.

"For a patient with cirrhosis or viral hepatitis, the data says even small amounts of alcohol can be bad. But that may not be applicable to all forms of liver disease. Forty million Americans have NAFLD. Physicians need to look at their patient's overall health, their CVD risk, their liver status, whether they're already drinking modestly or not. They need to put all of these things into a framework to determine risk. I suspect modest alcohol consumption will be an appropriate recommendation for many patients, but clearly not all."

Related Articles

Health & Nutrition News

Curcumin – Clinical Support for Bioavailability of Wacker Product

24 Feb 2017 --- A clinical study that was recently published in the European Journal of Nutrition shows that the bioavailability of curcumin can be increased significantly with the help of gammadextrin – by a factor of 40 compared to conventional curcumin extract. 

Business News

Fasting Mimicking Diet May Reverse Diabetes

24 Feb 2017 --- A landmark study published n Cell finds that providing mice with a temporary, specifically formulated Fasting Mimicking Diet (FMD) promotes the growth of new insulin-producing pancreatic cells and reduces symptoms of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The study also examined pancreatic cell cultures from human type 1 diabetes patients, finding similar results.

Health & Nutrition News

Calls for "10 a Day" as Industry Defends Fruit & Veg Approach

23 Feb 2017 --- Consuming ten portions of fruit and veg a day offers the greatest benefit when it comes to protecting from heart disease, strokes, cancer and early death, according to new research. It is estimated that if consumers increased their intake to this number, approximately 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide could be potentially prevented every year.

Health & Nutrition News

Vit D & Calcium Supplementation Could Save EU Healthcare Providers Billions in Treating Osteoporosis

22 Feb 2017 --- An increase in the use of calcium and vitamin D supplements could save nearly €4 billion ($4.2 billion) a year in healthcare costs by avoiding bone fractures caused by osteoporosis, according to a new independent analysis commissioned by Food Supplements Europe. The news puts vitamin D back in the spotlight, after recent recommendations were made for consumers to increase their intake to promote respiratory health.

More Articles
URL : http://www.nutritioninsight.com:80/news/Modest-Alcohol-Consumption-Lowers-Risk-and-Severity-of-Liver-Disease.html