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Obesity, Drinking a Double Threat to the Liver

Combination increased chances of cirrhosis, studies found

THURSDAY, March 11, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity plus daily drinking boosts the risk of liver disease in men and women, researchers report in two new studies.

In one study, scientists at the University of Oxford examined the medical records of 1.2 million middle-aged British women. They followed them for an average of about six years and found that overweight or obese women faced a higher risk of cirrhosis of the liver, and the risk increased if they also reported drinking an average of a third to half a drink a day.

Still the overall numbers were small: Of those who drank that much, only 0.8 or 1 in 1,000 was admitted to the hospital with cirrhosis of the liver or died of the disease over five years.

But among those who reported drinking an average of 2.5 drinks a day, the rate was 2.7 in 1,000 among those with healthy weight and five in 1,000 among those who were obese.

In another study, teams at the universities of Glasgow and Bristol tracked more than 9,000 men in Scotland for an average of 29 years. They found that a combination of higher alcohol consumption and obesity boosted the levels of liver disease beyond what would be expected.

Both reports appear online March 12 in the BMJ.

More information

The American Liver Foundation has more about alcohol-induced liver disease.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, March 11, 2010
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