Alcohol consumption in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: yes, or no?
Excessive alcohol intake is an established risk factor for chronic liver disease. At the same time, moderate alcohol intake appears to reduce cardiovascular morbidity. Accordingly, recommendations for alcohol intake in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), who are at increased risk for liver-related and cardiovascular events, are a point of debate. Some studies have shown beneficial effects of alcohol on cardiovascular and overall mortality in this specific subset of patients. Nonetheless, even light alcohol intake appears to aggravate liver disease and increase the risk of hepatocellular cancer. Therefore, patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis or advanced fibrosis should be advised against consuming alcohol. On the other hand, only light alcohol consumption (<10 g/day) might be permitted in patients without significant hepatic fibrosis, provided that they are carefully followed-up. As the research field focusing on NAFLD keeps widening, more prospective studies regarding this specific subject are expected, and may provide a basis for less ambiguous recommendations.
Keywords Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, alcohol, cardiovascular disease, hepatocellular cancer, fibrosis
Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (4): 476-486