24 June 2019 In Liver Disease

Importance: The prevalence of high-intensity binge drinking (HIBD), defined as consuming 2 or more times the binge threshold defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is rapidly increasing in the United States. While the relationship between alcohol consumption and lipid and liver function enzyme (LFT) biomarkers has been previously examined, the associations of HIBD with those biomarkers remain unknown.

Objective: To examine associations of HIBD with lipid and LFT levels in a cross-sectional sample enriched with participants who engage in HIBD.

Design, Setting, and Participants: Cross-sectional study using data from the NIAAA clinical sample collected from March 3, 2005, to August 21, 2017, with participants recruited for either the NIAAA screening protocols or inpatient alcohol treatment program. For this study, participants were stratified by self-reported alcohol consumption into 4 sex-specific binge levels: nonbinge and 1, 2, and 3 or more times the binge threshold (levels I, II, and III). Multivariable analyses examined the odds of clinically high levels of lipids and LFTs across binge levels. Analyses were performed from December 3, 2018, to January 30, 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures: Serum levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides, alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and gamma-glutamyltransferase. Results: A total of 2065 participants underwent protocol screening; 1519 with data available on alcohol consumption, body mass index, lipid levels, and LFT levels were included in the final analyses. Mean (SD) age was 39.7 (12.1) years; mean (SD) body mass index was 26.6 (5.1); 978 (64.4%) were male; 718 (47.3%) were white; and 578 (31.1%) consumed alcohol at the nonbinge level, 321 (21.2%) at level I, 239 (15.7%) at level II, and 318 (25.1%) at level III. High-intensity binge drinking was associated with 2- to 8-fold increased odds for clinically high levels of HDL-C, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and all LFTs (eg, for HDL-C: level III odds ratio [OR], 8.65; 95% CI, 4.75-15.77 and for gamma-glutamyltransferase: level III OR, 8.21; 95% CI, 5.90-11.43). Increased HIBD frequency (days consuming at levels II and III) was associated with increased odds for clinically high levels of HDL-C, total cholesterol, and all LFTs (per unit increase in days consuming at the respective binge level) (eg, for HDL-C: level II OR, 1.025; 95% CI, 1.014-1.036 and level III OR, 1.033; 95% CI, 1.019-1.047 and for gamma-glutamyltransferase: level II OR, 1.028; 95% CI, 1.019-1.037 and level III OR, 1.033; 95% CI, 1.019-1.047).

Conclusions and Relevance: High-impact binge drinking was significantly associated with increased odds for clinically high levels of lipids and LFTs. Given that HIBD is increasingly common among US adults, targeted interventions aimed at reducing HIBD may have important health benefits.

22 February 2019 In Liver Disease

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the longitudinal relationship between repeated measures of alcohol consumption and risk of developing fatty liver.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This study includes 5407 men and women from a British population-based cohort, the Whitehall II study of civil servants, who self-reported alcohol consumption by questionnaire over approximately 30 years (1985-1989 through to 2012-2013). Drinking typologies during midlife were linked to measures of fatty liver (the fatty liver index, FLI) when participants were in older age (age range 60-84 years) and adjusted for age, socio-economic position, ethnicity, and smoking.

RESULTS: Those who consistently drank heavily had two-fold higher odds of increased FLI compared to stable low-risk moderate drinkers after adjustment for covariates (men: OR = 2.04, 95%CI = 1.53-2.74; women: OR = 2.24, 95%CI = 1.08-4.55). Former drinkers also had an increased FLI compared to low-risk drinkers (men: OR = 2.09, 95%CI = 1.55-2.85; women: OR = 1.68, 95%CI = 1.08-2.67). There were non-significant differences in FLI between non-drinkers and stable low-risk drinkers. Among women, there was no increased risk for current heavy drinkers in cross sectional analyses.

CONCLUSION: Drinking habits among adults during midlife affect the development of fatty liver, and sustained heavy drinking is associated with an increased FLI compared to stable low-risk drinkers. After the exclusion of former drinkers, there was no difference between non-drinkers and low-risk drinkers, which does not support a protective effect on fatty liver from low-risk drinking. Cross-sectional analyses among women did not find an increased risk of heavy drinking compared to low-risk drinkers, thus highlighting the need to take a longitudinal approach.

05 December 2018 In Liver Disease

BACKGROUND: Alcohol is a known cause of cirrhosis, but it is unclear if the associated risk varies by whether alcohol is drunk with meals, or by the frequency or type of alcohol consumed. Here we aim to investigate the associations between alcohol consumption with meals, daily frequency of consumption, and liver cirrhosis.

METHODS: The Million Women Study is a prospective study that includes one in every four UK women born between 1935 and 1950, recruited between 1996 and 2001. In 2001 (IQR 2000-03), the participants reported their alcohol intake, whether consumption was usually with meals, and number of days per week it was consumed. Cox regression analysis yielded adjusted relative risks (RRs) for incident cirrhosis, identified by follow-up through electronic linkage to routinely collected national hospital admission, and death databases.

FINDINGS: During a mean of 15 years (SD 3) of follow-up of 401 806 women with a mean age of 60 years (SD 5), without previous cirrhosis or hepatitis, and who reported drinking at least one alcoholic drink per week, 1560 had a hospital admission with cirrhosis (n=1518) or died from the disease (n=42). Cirrhosis incidence increased with amount of alcohol consumed (>/=15 drinks [mean 220 g of alcohol] vs one to two drinks [mean 30 g of alcohol] per week; RR 3.43, 95% CI 2.87-4.10; p<0.0001). About half of the participants (203 564 of 401 806) reported usually drinking with meals and, after adjusting for amount consumed, cirrhosis incidence was lower for usually drinking with meals than not (RR 0.69, 0.62-0.77; p<0.0001; wine-only drinkers RR 0.69, 0.56-0.85; all other drinkers RR 0.72, 0.63-0.82). Among 175 618 women who consumed seven or more drinks per week, cirrhosis incidence was greater for daily consumption than non-daily consumption (adjusted RR 1.61, 1.40-1.85; p<0.0001). Daily consumption, together with not drinking with meals, was associated with more than a doubling of cirrhosis incidence (adjusted RR 2.47, 1.96-3.11; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: In middle-aged women, cirrhosis incidence increases with total alcohol intake, even at moderate levels of consumption. For a given weekly intake of alcohol, this excess incidence of cirrhosis is higher if consumption is usually without meals, or with daily drinking. FUNDING: UK Medical Research Council and Cancer Research UK.

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
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