Effect of Low-Dose Alcohol Consumption on Chronic Liver Disease

Nutrients. 2024 Feb 23;16(5):613. doi: 10.3390/nu16050613.

Abstract

Although alcohol is one of the most important etiologic agents in the development of chronic liver disease worldwide, also recognized as a promoter of carcinogenesis, several studies have shown a beneficial effect of moderate consumption in terms of reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Whether this benefit is also present in patients with liver disease due to other causes (viral, metabolic, and others) is still debated. Although there is no clear evidence emerging from guidelines and scientific literature, total abstention from drinking is usually prescribed in clinical practice. In this review, we highlight the results of the most recent evidence on this controversial topic, in order to understand the effect of mild alcohol use in this category of individuals. The quantification of alcohol intake, the composition of the tested populations, and the discrepancy between different works in relation to the outcomes represent important limitations emerging from the scientific literature. In patients with NAFLD, a beneficial effect is demonstrated only in a few works. Even if there is limited evidence in patients affected by chronic viral hepatitis, a clear deleterious effect of drinking in determining disease progression in a dose-dependent manner emerges. Poor data are available about more uncommon pathologies such as hemochromatosis. Overall, based on available data, it is not possible to establish a safe threshold for alcohol intake in patients with liver disease.

Keywords: HBV; HCV; NAFLD; alcohol consumption; chronic liver disease; viral hepatitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Ethanol
  • Humans
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease*

Substances

  • Ethanol

Grants and funding

This research received no external funding.