Frequent moderate drinking of alcohol is associated with a lower risk of fatty liver disease

In a large study of men in Japan, the presence of fatty liver disease by ultrasonography showed an inverse ( reduced risk) association with the frequency of moderate alcohol consumption; however, there was some suggestion of an increase in fatty liver disease with higher volume of alcohol consumed per day. Moderate drinkers had lower levels of obesity than did non-drinkers, and both obesity and metabolic abnormalities were positively associated with fatty liver disease.

These findings support the results of a number of other recent studies showing that moderate drinking does not increase the risk of this common type of liver disease; instead, it is associated with a lower risk of its occurrence. We agree with the implications of these studies as stated by the authors: “These results suggest that lifestyle modifications aimed at fighting central obesity and metabolic abnormalities should be the most important recommendations for the management of fatty liver.

In addition, it seems unlikely that the risk of fatty liver can be reduced by the discontinuation and/or reduction of alcohol consumption alone.”


Reference: Hiramine Y, Imamura Y, Uto H, Koriyama C, Horiuchi M, Oketani M, Hosoyamada K, Kusano K, Ido A, Tsubouchi H. Alcohol drinking patterns and the risk of fatty liver in Japanese men. J Gastroenterol 2011 46:519-. DOI 10.1007/s00535-010-0336-z.

Comments on the present paper were provided by the following members of the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research:

Erik Skovenborg, MD, Scandinavian Medical Alcohol Board, Practitioner, Aarhus, Denmark.

R. Curtis Ellison, MD, Section of Preventive Medicine & Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.

Arne Svilaas, MD, PhD, general practice and lipidology, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway.

Gordon Troup, MSc, DSc, School of Physics, Monash University, Victoria, Australia.

Harvey Finkel, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Boston University Medical Center, Boston, MA, USA.

Andrew L. Waterhouse, PhD, Marvin Sands Professor, University of California, Davis.

For the detailed critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, go to

The specialists who are members of the Forum are happy to respond to questions from Health Editors regarding emerging research on alcohol and health and will offer an independent opinion in context with other research on the subject.


Contact: R. Curtis Ellison
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Boston University Medical Center

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