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Best Pract Res Clin Gastroenterol. 2003 Aug;17(4):625-47.

Advances in alcoholic liver disease.

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  • 1University of Louisville Medical Center, Building A, Room 1319, Louisville, KY 40292, USA.


Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) remains a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. For example, the Veterans Administration Cooperative Studies reported that patients with cirrhosis and superimposed alcoholic hepatitis had a 4-year mortality of >60%. Interactions between acetaldehyde, reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, inflammatory mediators and genetic factors appear to play prominent roles in the development of ALD. The cornerstone of therapy for ALD is lifestyle modification, including drinking and smoking cessation and losing weight, if appropriate. Nutrition intervention has been shown to play a positive role on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Corticosteroids are effective in selected patients with alcoholic hepatitis and pentoxifylline appears to be a promising anti-inflammatory therapy. Some complementary and alternative medicine agents, such as milk thistle and S-adenosylmethionine, may be effective in alcoholic cirrhosis. Treatment of the complications of ALD can improve quality of life and, in some cases, decrease short-term mortality.

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