Can I drink alcohol if I have a fatty liver?

14 April, 2024

Alcohol worsens fatty liver, significantly increasing mortality in high-risk patients, even with moderate intake

Fatty liver is a common disease that affects approximately 30% of the world’s population. Without treatment, fatty liver can lead to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. The mechanism of fatty liver injury is the accumulation of fat in the organ, which induces inflammation and destruction of the liver cell.

Alcohol intake produces the same type of injury to the liver, introducing fat and thus causing inflammation and destruction. In addition, alcohol consumption is a risk factor for the development of type 2 diabetes. Normally, all patients with fatty liver are strictly prohibited from ingesting alcohol. However, some are reluctant to completely stop drinking alcohol, although they reduce the amount they ingest.

Alcohol and its influence on the liver

A study has been published in the journal JAMA that evaluates the possible hepatotoxicity of alcohol intake in fatty liver. A total of 2834 patients were included in the study and were classified according to the prognosis of the evolution of the disease into low risk (F0, F1) and high risk (F2, F3 and F4). This classification is based on the presence of fibrosis in the liver, F0 corresponding to a healthy liver, F1 to minimal fibrosis, F2 to moderate fibrosis, F3 to pre-cirrhosis and F4 to cirrhosis.

It was found that with alcohol intake, mortality increased significantly among patients classified as high risk, regardless of the amount they drank. On the contrary, patients with fatty liver classified as low risk did not have a higher mortality or risk of disease progression if they drank a maximum of half a can of beer or half a glass of wine daily. This corresponds to less than 7.4 g of alcohol per day.

What do experts say

However, in the opinion of Dr. Carreño and the Foundation’s doctors, this is not advisable in any case. In our experience, patients who refuse to stop drinking, although at first they moderate and control their alcohol consumption, end up drinking quantities of alcohol greater than the above mentioned limit.

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