Results of a study were recently released showing the deadly effect that high alcohol intake and excess body weight can have on women's chances of developing and dying from chronic liver disease.
The researchers analyzed data from over 107,000 women across the United Kingdom to find out how weight and alcohol consumption affect the liver. The findings were presented recently at the 2013 International Liver Congress in Amsterdam in The Netherlands.
The Congress is an annual event organized by the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), whose Scientific Committee Member Daniele Prati says in a press statement that we have known for some time that a person's alcohol intake and their weight are major causes of chronic liver disease, but until now there has not been a large population study that compares how these two factors affect each other.
For the study, the researchers classed the participants by low or high BMI and low or high alcohol intake.
Low BMI was defined as under 25, and high as 25 and over (normally classified as overweight). Low alcohol intake was classed as 15 units a week or less, and high as over 15 units a week. A unit is about one 25ml single measure of 40 percent whisky, or a third of a pint of 6 percent beer, or half a 175ml standard glass of 12 percent red wine.
In the UK the government advises people should not regularly drink more than the daily unit guidelines of 3-4 units of alcohol for men and 2-3 units of alcohol for women, where "regularly" means drinking every day or most days of the week.
The results showed that women who had both high BMI and high alcohol intake were significantly more likely to suffer from chronic liver disease.
These findings will have a significant impact on how millions of women around the world are helped to reduce their risk for liver disease.
Committee Member Daniele Prati noted that "Based on this research we know that a person with low BMI and high alcoholic intake have a greater risk of developing chronic liver disease compared to a woman with a high BMI who doesn't drink very much," she explains, adding that: "Women are at particular risk as they are twice as sensitive as men to alcohol related liver damage and developing a more severe form of the disease at lower doses with shorter durations of alcohol consumption."
Describing the study as "a step in the right direction", she urges that research now needs to be done to establish the exact thresholds for each risk factor's effect on chronic liver disease risk, separately and together.
Source: Medical News Today
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