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Overweight Drinkers at Increased Risk of Liver Damage

Heavy drinking harms the liver – as does being obese – but when obese people drink heavily, the damage to the liver increases exponentially.

Two studies coming out of the UK this week demonstrate for the first time that obese heavy drinkers face a significantly increased risk of liver diseases, such as the cirrhosis of the liver.

Amongst the findings:

  • Women who are obese and drink 2.5 UK units of alcohol a day (1 largish glass of wine) have twice the risk of liver disease as women at a healthy weight who drink just as much
  • Men who are overweight and drink a pint of beer a day or more (15 UK units) have 19 times the risk of liver disease as men at a healthy weight who abstain from alcohol

Dr. Robert Brown, director of the Center for Liver Disease at New York Presbyterian Hospital commented on the results of the two British studies, saying, “We see this more and more because the country is becoming more obese every day. Many of us have suspected for awhile that if you both drink and are obese, it stands to reason that you will have more of a problem with your liver. These two studies have confirmed what many of us thought to be true.”

Lead researcher on one of the 2 studies, Dr. Carole Hart, out of the University of Glasgow says that what might be safe for a person at a healthy weight may be dangerously high for another person, saying, "Further research might show that there could be different limits more applicable to overweight and obese people."

Health experts say that prevention is best, and that by reducing excess alcohol consumption and trimming excess weight you greatly reduce your risk factors for liver and other diseases.

Read the full results of both studies in the British Medical Journal.

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