29 October 2018 In Liver Disease
Understanding the role of modest alcohol consumption in patients with non-alcohol induced fatty liver disease (NAFLD) remains a significant challenge, with no clear guidance on counselling regarding alcohol use. Conventionally, the strong association of alcohol excess and development of complications related to chronic liver disease, including hepatocellular carcinoma, has led practitioners to advocate complete abstinence to those with NAFLD. New evidence published in this issue of the Red Journal challenges the historic paradigm by showing that modest, non-binge wine consumption (<70 g/week) associates with significantly lower risk of advanced hepatic fibrosis on biopsy compared with complete abstinence across a well-characterised single centre cohort of nearly 200 patients with NAFLD
29 October 2018 In Liver Disease

INTRODUCTION: It is unclear whether low levels of alcohol are harmful in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to determine whether quantity, binge pattern consumption, or type of alcohol was associated with liver fibrosis in patients with NAFLD.

METHODS: Previous and current alcohol consumption was assessed in NAFLD patients undergoing liver biopsy. All subjects currently consumed /=4 standard drinks (female) or >/=5 standard drinks (male) in one sitting. Liver biopsies were scored according to the NASH CRN system with F3/4 fibrosis defined as advanced.

RESULTS: Among 187 patients (24% with advanced fibrosis), the median weekly alcohol consumption was 20 (2.3-60) g over an average of 18 years. Modest consumption (1-70 g per week) was associated with lower mean fibrosis stage compared to lifetime abstainers (p < 0.05) and a decreased risk of advanced fibrosis (OR 0.33, 95% CI 0.14-0.78, p = 0.01). The association with reduced fibrosis was not seen in subjects drinking in a binge-type fashion. Exclusive wine drinkers but not exclusive beer drinkers, had lower mean fibrosis stage and lower odds of advanced fibrosis (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.06-0.69, p = 0.01), compared to lifetime abstinent subjects. No interaction between gender and alcohol quantity, type, or binge consumption on fibrosis was observed.

DISCUSSION: Modest (1-70 g per week) alcohol consumption, particularly wine in a non-binge pattern, is associated with lower fibrosis in patients with NAFLD. Prospective longitudinal studies into fibrosis progression, cardiovascular outcomes, and mortality are required before clinical recommendations can be made.

29 October 2018 In Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) comprises more than two thirds of patients with chronic liver disease in the United States. The effect of alcohol consumption on survival in patients with NAFLD is not clear. We gathered data on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants from 1988 to 2010, and linked them to the National Death Index for follow-up of their survival. We diagnosed NAFLD based on a previously validated biochemical model (Hepatic Steatosis Index). We built multivariate Cox proportional hazards models to evaluate the effect of alcohol consumption on survival of patients with NAFLD. After excluding participants with significant alcohol use, viral hepatitis, or increased transferrin saturation, 4,568 participants with NAFLD were included in the analysis. In a Cox model adjusted for age, sex, and smoking history, drinking 0.5-1.5 drinks per day decreased the risk of overall mortality by 41% (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.59, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.40-0.85, P = 0.005) compared with not drinking. Drinking >/=1.5 drinks per day showed a trend toward harm (HR = 1.16, 95% CI 0.99-1.36, P = 0.119). After further adjustment for race, physical activity, education level, diabetes, and fiber and polyunsaturated fatty acid intake, drinking 0.5-1.5 drinks per day continued to show a significant protective effect (HR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.42-0.97, P = 0.035), and drinking >/=1.5 drinks per day showed a significant harmful effect on mortality (HR = 1.45, 95% CI 1.01-2.10, P = 0.047). Among patients with NAFLD, modest alcohol consumption is associated with a significant decrease in all-cause mortality, whereas drinking >/=1.5 drinks per day is associated with an increase in mortality. These results help to inform the discussion of potential risks and benefits of alcohol use in patients with NAFLD.

29 October 2018 In Drinking Patterns

Lower strength alcohol products may help reduce alcohol consumption and associated harms. This study assessed the impact of labeling wine and beer with different verbal descriptors denoting lower strength, with and without percent alcohol by volume (%ABV), on product appeal and understanding of strength. Three thousand three hundred ninety adult survey-panel members were randomized to 1 of 18 groups with 1 of 3 levels of verbal descriptor (Low vs. Super Low vs. No verbal descriptor) and 6 levels of %ABV (5 levels varying for wine and beer, and no level given). Products with verbal descriptors denoting lower strength (Low and Super Low) had lower appeal than Regular strength products. Appeal decreased as %ABV decreased. Understanding of strength was generally high across the various drinks with majority of participants correctly identifying or erring on the side of caution when estimating the units and calories in a given drink, appropriateness for consumption by children, and drinking within the driving limit. We discuss the theoretical and policy implications of these findings for public health. (PsycINFO Database Record).

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