24 January 2020 In Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is defined by hepatic steatosis in the presence of alcohol intake within safe limits, defined by guidelines of scientific associations (usually 20 g or 2 units/day in women, 30 g or 3 units in men). The diagnosis is usually followed by medical counseling of total abstinence, in order to prevent disease progression.

This policy has been challenged by epidemiological studies, suggesting that the risk of liver disease and disease progression is lower in modest drinkers than in total abstainers. We revised the literature on the effects of modest alcohol intake on disease burden. Epidemiological data may suffer from several potential biases (recall bias for retrospective analyses, difficulties in the calculation of g/day), limiting their validity.

Prospective data suggest that NAFLD patients with regular alcohol intake, although within the safe thresholds, are at higher risk of liver disease progression, including hepatocellular carcinoma; a detrimental effect of modest alcohol drinking is similarly observed in liver disease of viral etiology. Alcohol intake is also a risk factor for extrahepatic cancers, particularly breast, oral, and pharyngeal cancers, with gender difference and no floor effect, which outweigh the possible beneficial effects on cardiovascular system, also derived from retrospective studies.

Finally, the negative effects of the calorie content of alcohol on dietary restriction and weight loss, the pivotal intervention to reduce NAFLD burden, should be considered. In summary, the policy of counseling NAFLD patients for alcohol abstinence should be maintained.

03 June 2019 In General Health

BACKGROUND: While alcohol use is linked with a wide variety of health problems, the question of whether differences in drinking patterns could yield different outcomes has remained unclear.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We measured liver enzymes (ALT, GGT) from alcohol consumers with or without binge drinking from a population-based sample in Finland, where binge-type drinking is common. Data on alcohol use, diet, body weight, lifestyle (smoking, coffee consumption, physical activity), and health status were collected from 19225 subjects (9492 men, 9733 women), aged 25-74 years. The participants were subsequently classified to subgroups, both according to the frequencies of binge drinking and the amounts of regular alcohol intake (low-, medium-, and high-risk drinking).

RESULTS: The quantity of regular alcohol use was roughly linearly related with GGT and ALT activities. ANOVA analyses of the trends according to the frequency of binge drinking showed a significant GGT increase in both men (p < 0.0005) and women (p < 0.0005), and a significant increase of ALT in men (p < 0.0005). In those with low-risk overall consumption, markedly higher GGT (p < 0.0005) and ALT (p < 0.0005) occurred in those with binge drinking more than once a month, compared with those with no such occasions. Binge drinking occurring </=1/month also resulted in higher GGT (p < 0.0005) and ALT (p < 0.05) activities.

CONCLUSIONS: These results emphasize possible adverse consequences of binge drinking on hepatic function even in those with low-risk overall consumption. The pattern of drinking should be more systematically implicated in clinical recommendations for drinking reduction.

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