Alcohol drinking pattern has a significant influence on the odds of developing liver cirrhosis, with daily drinking increasing that risk compared with drinking less frequently, a new study has claimed.
Although alcohol is the most important risk factor, less is known about the significance of different patterns of drinking.
Currently scientists believe that cirrhosis is a function of the volume of alcohol consumed irrespective of patterns of drinking.
“For the first time, our study points to a risk difference between drinking daily and drinking five or six days a week in the general male population, since earlier studies were conducted on alcohol misusers and patients referred for liver disease and compared daily drinking to ‘binge pattern’ or ‘episodic’ drinking,” said lead investigator Gro Askgaard, from the Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet.
“Since the details of alcohol induced liver injury are unknown, we can only speculate that the reason may be that daily alcohol exposure worsens liver damage or inhibits liver regeneration,” said Askgaard.
To examine the patterns of drinking associated with alcoholic cirrhosis, researchers in Denmark investigated the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis among nearly 56,000 participants aged between 50 and 64 in the Danish Cancer, Diet, and Health study (1993-2011).
All participants first completed a detailed food-frequency questionnaire along with a questionnaire regarding lifestyle and background factors (alcohol, smoking, physical activity, and years of education) as well as a brief physical examination including measurement of waist circumference.
Participants were also asked to report their average amount of alcohol intake when they were 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, and 50-59 years old.
The researchers calculated hazard ratios (HRs) for alcoholic cirrhosis in relation to drinking frequency, lifetime alcohol amount, and beverage type.
Among the 55,917 participants, 257 men and 85 women developed alcoholic cirrhosis, corresponding to an incidence rate of 66 in men and 19 in women per 100,000 person-years. There were no cases of alcoholic cirrhosis among lifetime abstainers.
In men, the results showed that daily drinking increases the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis compared with drinking less frequently.
The results also suggest that recent alcohol consumption, and not lifetime alcohol consumption, is the strongest predictor of alcoholic cirrhosis.
Compared with beer and liquor, wine seems to be associated with a lower risk of alcoholic cirrhosis up to a moderate level of weekly alcohol amount.
The research was published in the Journal of Hepatology.