Sunday, March 14, 2010

Obesity 'ups' liver disease in drinkers

Compared to their normal-weight counterparts, overweight drinkers are at a greater risk of developing liver diseases, a new study finds.

Previous studies had reported liver cirrhosis as the major complications among regular drinkers. A new study, however, shows the risk to be higher among individuals with excess weight.

According to the study published in the British Medical Journal, Obese men who drank 15 or more units a week are 19 times more likely to develop the condition.

As for women, the risk increased 28 percent for each extra five units in those with a body mass index (BMI) of 22.5 or higher, the study found.

"Excess body weight clearly makes an independent contribution to rates of liver cirrhosis, and in middle-age women we estimated this to be about 17% of all cirrhosis-related hospital admissions and deaths, or almost half of the proportion attributable to alcohol," said lead researcher Bette Liu.

Scientists therefore urged individuals to reduce not only their excessive body weight, but also their alcohol consumption in order to protect themselves against liver cirrhosis.