Obesity, not alcohol, greater risk for fatty liver

Being overweight and resistant to insulin makes for a greater risk for a fatty liver than alcohol.

London: Being overweight and resistant to insulin makes for a greater risk for a fatty liver than moderate amounts of alcohol, warn researchers.

It has long been known that large amounts of alcohol can cause fatty liver, which leads to cirrhosis - the most common liver ailment in the western world.

More recent research has shown that obesity and insulin resistance can also cause fatty liver, which in turn is closely associated with diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Thus far it was seen that just over a glass of wine for men and just over half a glass of wine per day for women was sufficient to bring about a fatty liver condition, but Professor Fredrik Nystrom and Assistant Professor Stergios Kechagias at Sweden`s Linkoping University are now showing that moderate amounts of alcohol daily don`t cause fatty liver, reports the journal Annals of Medicine.

In their study, 44 individuals participated and were randomised to either abstain entirely from alcohol or drink one glass of red wine per day for women and two glasses for men for three months.

Before and after the trial, the subjects provided blood samples, and the fatty content of the liver was measured with state-of-the-art magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

"It turned out that the amount of fat in the liver was linked with obesity and insulin resistance and was almost not at all affected by the red wine. Specifically, after three months, none of the wine drinkers had developed fatty liver or elevated liver transaminases," said Kechagias, liver specialist at the university.

What`s more, the harmful LDL cholesterol was 16 percent lower at the end of the study in those who drank red wine compared with total abstainers.

"There is a strong correlation between moderate intake of alcohol and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease," said Nystrom.


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