Obesity, Diabetes, Coffee, Tea, and Cannabis Use Alter Risk for Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis in 2 Large Cohorts of High-Risk Drinkers

Am J Gastroenterol. 2021 Jan 1;116(1):106-115. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000000833.


Introduction: Sustained high alcohol intake is necessary but not sufficient to produce alcohol-related cirrhosis. Identification of risk factors, apart from lifetime alcohol exposure, would assist in discovery of mechanisms and prediction of risk.

Methods: We conducted a multicenter case-control study (GenomALC) comparing 1,293 cases (with alcohol-related cirrhosis, 75.6% male) and 754 controls (with equivalent alcohol exposure but no evidence of liver disease, 73.6% male). Information confirming or excluding cirrhosis, and on alcohol intake and other potential risk factors, was obtained from clinical records and by interview. Case-control differences in risk factors discovered in the GenomALC participants were validated using similar data from 407 cases and 6,573 controls from UK Biobank.

Results: The GenomALC case and control groups reported similar lifetime alcohol intake (1,374 vs 1,412 kg). Cases had a higher prevalence of diabetes (20.5% (262/1,288) vs 6.5% (48/734), P = 2.27 × 10-18) and higher premorbid body mass index (26.37 ± 0.16 kg/m2) than controls (24.44 ± 0.18 kg/m2, P = 5.77 × 10-15). Controls were significantly more likely to have been wine drinkers, coffee drinkers, smokers, and cannabis users than cases. Cases reported a higher proportion of parents who died of liver disease than controls (odds ratio 2.25 95% confidence interval 1.55-3.26). Data from UK Biobank confirmed these findings for diabetes, body mass index, proportion of alcohol as wine, and coffee consumption.

Discussion: If these relationships are causal, measures such as weight loss, intensive treatment of diabetes or prediabetic states, and coffee consumption should reduce the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Coffee*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / epidemiology*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology*
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / epidemiology*
  • Switzerland
  • Tea*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Wine


  • Coffee
  • Tea