Metabolic syndrome plus heavy alcohol use linked to liver deaths

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A brief research report published in Annals of Internal Medicine check the link between metabolic syndrome (MetS) and a recent increase in alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) deaths.

The report found that heavy alcohol use and the presence of MetS was associated with a higher risk for advanced liver disease, which may provide some explanation for the recent surge in alcoholic liver-disease related mortality.

What was the methodology?

Researchers from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and Keck Medicine of USC used NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) to examine whether MetS could be an important contributor to the recent mortality surge from ALD.

Participants were divided into six subgroups based on alcohol use and MetS.

Using logistic regression, the authors estimated marginally adjusted probabilities of advanced liver disease for each subgroup, adjusted for age, sex, and active smoking at 4-year intervals throughout the study period.

What did the findings suggest?

The model showed that increasing prevalence of heavy alcohol use with or without MetS did not explain increases in ALD.

However, the data did show increases in advanced liver disease with heavy alcohol use with or without MetS, with the greatest increase in advanced liver disease among those with both heavy alcohol use and MetS.

According to the authors, these findings suggest an increasing interaction effect with MetS and heavy alcohol use that may be contributing to the recent surge in ALD-related mortality, but the reasons are not entirely clear.

What is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.

These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. MetS is diagnosed when a person has three or more of these conditions.

What is alcohol-associated liver disease?

Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is a range of conditions and symptoms that occur when the liver becomes damaged due to excessive alcohol consumption.

ALD can range from simple fatty liver, which can be reversible, to alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis, which can be life-threatening.

ALD is the leading cause of liver disease in the United States and a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide.

How to prevent alcohol-associated liver disease

Alcohol-associated liver disease (ALD) is a preventable condition, and there are several steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of developing this disease. Here are some measures that can be taken to prevent ALD:

Limit Alcohol Consumption: The most effective way to prevent ALD is to limit alcohol consumption or abstain from alcohol altogether. For men, it is recommended to limit alcohol intake to two drinks or fewer per day, and for women, one drink or fewer per day.

Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity and overweight are linked to a higher risk of developing ALD, so maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help prevent this condition.

Avoid Binge Drinking: Drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time can increase the risk of developing ALD, so it is recommended to avoid binge drinking.

Get Vaccinated: Hepatitis B and C can cause liver damage, and getting vaccinated against hepatitis B and getting tested for hepatitis C can help prevent ALD.

Avoid Mixing Alcohol with Medications: Certain medications can cause liver damage when combined with alcohol, so it is important to check with a healthcare provider before consuming alcohol while taking medications.

Monitor Liver Function: Regular liver function tests can detect early signs of liver damage, and getting regular check-ups can help identify and manage liver problems before they become more severe.

By taking these preventive measures, individuals can reduce their risk of developing alcohol-associated liver disease and maintain overall liver health.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about dairy foods linked to liver cancer, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that anti-inflammatory diet could help prevent fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The study was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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