Obesity and Alcohol Bad for Liver

Obesity can increase damage to the liver caused by drinking alcohol, a new study shows, and in women can double the risk of liver disease.

New research shows that drinking is harder on the liver when drinkers are overweight. Experts say the combination of drinking too much and weighing too much is almost like a double whammy on the liver.

Obese women who drink little more than a glass of wine a day have double the risk of liver disease compared with those who are slimmer, a study recently published in the British Medical Journal suggests.

“Excess body weight clearly makes an independent contribution to rates of liver cirrhosis, and in middle-age women we estimated this to be about 17 percent of all cirrhosis-related hospital admissions and deaths, or almost half of the proportion attributable to alcohol,” said lead researcher Dr. Bette Liu of Oxford’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit said.

A similar study conducted by scientists a the University of Glasgow and the University of Bristol suggested the effects in men are similar, with male overweight drinkers showing an elevated risk of liver disease. According to the study, obese men who drank 15 or more units a week are 19 times more likely to develop the condition.

Liver disease is a leading cause of early death in the United States, according to Dr. Robert Brown, director of the Center for Liver Disease at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which is caused by obesity and diabetes but not excess drinking, is also on the rise.

Researchers from both studies urge people to not only reduce their body weight, but also limit alcohol consumption in order to protect themselves against cirrhosis of the liver.