Daily Drinking and the Risk of Cirrhosis

daily-drinkingThe over consumption of alcohol can be detrimental to the human body, having an adverse affect on number of organs. Prolonged and excessive use can ultimately result in the loss of life. One of the most common ailments associated with alcohol use is cirrhosis of the liver, the result of advanced liver disease. New research has found that alcohol drinking patterns significantly influence the risk of cirrhosis and that daily drinking increases the risk, Science Daily reports. "For the first time, our study points to a risk difference between drinking daily and drinking five or six days a week in the general male population, since earlier studies were conducted on alcohol misusers and patients referred for liver disease and compared daily drinking to 'binge pattern' or 'episodic' drinking," observed lead investigator Gro Askgaard, MD, of the Department of Hepatology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, and the National Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark. "Since the details of alcohol induced liver injury are unknown, we can only speculate that the reason may be that daily alcohol exposure worsens liver damage or inhibits liver regeneration." In Europe, where more alcohol is consumed than anywhere in the world, approximately 170,000 people die from alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver every year, according to the article. Researchers set out to analyze the patterns of drinking associated with alcoholic cirrhosis. Hazard ratios (HRs) for alcoholic cirrhosis were determined by looking at drinking frequency, lifetime alcohol amount, and beverage type among nearly 56,000 participants between 50 and 64 years of age. Of the participants, 257 men developed alcoholic cirrhosis; the researchers found that daily drinking and recent alcohol consumption is the strongest predictor of alcoholic cirrhosis. "Earlier studies regarding lifetime alcohol consumption and risk of alcoholic cirrhosis reached opposite conclusions, for instance, whether a previous high level of alcohol amount predicted future risk, even after having cut down," commented Dr. Askgaard. "From a clinical point of view, this is relevant in order to execute evidence-based counselling, and from a public health perspective, it may guide health interventions for the general population." "This is a timely contribution about one of the most important, if not the most important risk factor for liver cirrhosis globally, because our overall knowledge about drinking patterns and liver cirrhosis is sparse and in part contradictory," said noted expert Jürgen Rehm, PhD, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto. "The work of Askgaard and colleagues not only increases our knowledge, but also raises questions for future research. The question of binge drinking patterns and mortality is far from solved, and there may be genetic differences or other covariates not yet discovered, which play a role and could explain the different empirical findings." The study, “Alcohol drinking pattern and risk of alcoholic liver cirrhosis: A prospective cohort study,” was published in the Journal of Hepatology.

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