Page last updated: December 4, 2018
Modest alcohol consumption may reduce mortality in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

A study published in the August edition of Hepatology suggest that for patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), modest alcohol consumption is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality, while drinking 1.5 or more drinks per day may increase mortality.

Kaveh Hajifathalian, MD, MPH, from New York- Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and colleagues obtained data on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants from 1988 to 2010 and linked them to the National Death Index to examine the effect of alcohol consumption on survival in NAFLD; 4568 participants with NAFLD were included in the analysis. NAFLD was diagnosed based on a previously validated biochemical model.

The researchers found that drinking 0.5 to 1.5 US drinks of 14g per day was associated with a decreased risk for overall mortality compared with not drinking (hazard ratio [HR], 0.59; 95% confidence interval, 0.4 to 0.85; P = 0.005) in a model adjusted for age, sex, and smoking history. There was a trend toward harm for drinking ≥1.5 drinks per day (HR, 1.16; 95% CI, 0.99 to 1.36; P = 0.119). The protective effect of drinking 0.5 to 1.5 drinks per day remained significant after further adjustment for race, physical activity, education level, diabetes, fibre and polyunsaturated fat intake (HR, 0.64; 95% CI, 0.42 to 0.97; P = 0.035), and drinking ≥1.5 US drinks ( 21g) per day showed a significant harmful effect after adjustment (HR, 1.45; 95% CI, 1.01 to 2.1; P = 0.047).

Among patients with NAFLD, modest alcohol consumption is associated with a significant decrease in all-cause mortality, whereas drinking 20g per day or more 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, the authors conclude.

Source: Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Survival in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A National Prospective Cohort Study. Kaveh Hajifathalian, Babak Torabi Sagvand, Arthur J. McCullough. Hepatology, first published: 19 August 2018

doi.org/10.1002/hep.30226
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