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Modest alcohol consumption lowers risk and severity of liver disease
Date:4/19/2012

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 develop
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Contact: Scott LaFee
slafee@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego
Source:Eurekalert  

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