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World J Gastroenterol. 2004 Aug 15;10(16):2423-6.

Risk factors for alcoholic liver disease in China.

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  • 1Department of Gastroenterology, Second Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, 157 Xiwulu, Xi'an 710004, Shaanxi Province, China.



To examine the association of daily alcohol intake, types of alcoholic beverage consumed, drinking patterns and obesity with alcoholic liver disease in China.


By random cluster sampling and a 3-year follow-up study, 1 270 alcohol drinkers were recruited from different occupations in the urban and suburban areas of Xi'an City. They were examined by specialists and inquired for information on: Medical history and family medical history, alcohol intake, types of alcoholic beverage consumed, drinking patterns by detailed dietary questionnaires. Routine blood tests and ultrasonography were done.


Multivariate analysis showed that: (1) The risk threshold for developing alcoholic liver disease was ingestion of more than 20 g alcohol per day, keeping on drinking for over 5 years in men. The highest OR was at the daily alcohol consumption > or =160 g, the occurrence rate of ALD amounted to 18.7% (P<0.01). No ALD occurred when ingestion of alcohol was less than 20 g per day. (2) 87.9% of all drank only at mealtimes. The cumulative risk of developing ALD was significantly higher in those individuals who regularly drank alcohol without food than in those who drank only at mealtimes, especially for those who regularly drank hard liquors only and multiple drinks (P<0.05). (3) The alcohol consumption in those with BMI > or =25 was lower than in those with BMI<25, but the risk increased to 11.5%, significantly higher than that of general population, 6.5% (P<0.01). (4) Abstinence and weight reduction could benefit the liver function recovery.


In the Chinese population the ethanol risk threshold for developing ALD is 20 g per day, and this risk increases with increased daily intake. Drinking 20 g of ethanol per day and for less than 5 years are safe from ALD. Drinking alcohol outside mealtimes and drinking hard liquors only and multiple different alcohol beverages both increase the risk of developing ALD. Obesity also increases the risk. Abstinence and weight reduction will directly affect the prognosis of ALD. Doctor's strong advice might influence the prognosis indirectly.

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