In most chronic liver diseases, chronic heavy alcohol consumption is a risk factor for developing cirrhosis and liver cancer, however, moderate intake of alcoholic beverages may be protective against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Alcohol consumption often acts in synergy with other chronic liver diseases to accelerate liver injury and increases the risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver-related mortality. A review of the scientific literature by US researchers revealed that drinking higher amounts of alcohol (greater than 30g/day for men and 20g/day for women (*)) can increase liver injury in a number of chronic liver diseases (such as hepatitis B and C, hereditary hemochromatosis, and autoimmune liver diseases). On the other hand, recent data suggest that moderate consumption alcoholic beverages may be inversely related to the risk of developing NAFLD – the most prevalent liver disease today – and lower rates of progression of NAFLD to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH **).
(*) American Association for the Study of Liver Disease and European Association for Study of the Liver definition:
Significant alcohol drinking: >30g/day for men, >20g/day for women
National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism definition:
binge drinking = >40g/day in women and 50g/day in men (within 2 hours)
(**) NASH a common, often “silent” liver disease. It resembles alcoholic liver disease, but occurs in people who drink little or no alcohol. The major feature in NASH is fat in the liver, along with inflammation and damage. Most individuals with NASH feel well and are not aware that they have a liver problem. Nevertheless, NASH can be severe and can lead to cirrhosis, in which the liver is permanently damaged and scarred and no longer able to work properly.
Hsu CC, Kowdley KV. The Effects of Alcohol on Other Chronic Liver Diseases. Clin Liver Dis. 2016;20:581-94.
For more information about this article, read the scientific abstract here.