Pattern of Alcohol Consumption as Important as Quantity Consumed in Development of Liver Disease, UB Study Finds

By Lois Baker

Release Date: June 15, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Women who habitually consume alcohol without food, and men who drink daily rather than less frequently, are at increased risk of liver damage even after adjusting for amount of alcohol consumed, the first study of the effects of drinking patterns on biochemical indicators of alcohol-related liver damage has shown.

The study is highlighted in the June issue of Alcohol: Clinical and Experimental Research. Saverio Stranges, M.D., research instructor in the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo, is principal investigator.

Additional results showed that women who drank primarily on weekends were at higher risk of liver disease than women who drink moderately throughout the week.

The data also supported previous evidence of an alcohol "dose threshold," below which there is little evidence of liver damage. The safe range for men in this study was determined to be 14-27 drinks-per-week, or no more than three a day; for women, the safe range was 7-14 drinks-per-week, or no more than two a day (a drink being a 12-oz beer, an ounce of liquor, or 4 ounces of wine).

"These findings support the growing scientific interest in the field of alcohol research in the role of drinking pattern on many health and social outcomes," said Stranges.

"The findings further confirm that the relationship between alcohol consumption and disease risk is a complex one. They emphasize the need to incorporate into alcohol research the many different and complex components of drinking patterns, such as the frequency and setting of consumption."

The study results may have important public-health implications for the kind of advice given both to the population-at-large and to women in particular, said Stranges.

"The suggestion is, if you drink, drink in moderation and in a healthy way, with food, and spread the consumption over a longer period of time rather than a short period, such as a weekend."

Results of this study were presented previously at the 2003 meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research. A full description of the study can be found at here.

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York. UB's more than 27,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs.