Nav: Home

Cold weather & fewer sun hours are associated with increased rates of alcoholic cirrhosis

April 22, 2017

April 22, 2017, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: New data presented today at The International Liver Congress™ 2017 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, suggests that colder and less sunny regions of the world have higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive drinking which results in irreversible scarring of the liver. An international team of scientists analysing data from over 190 countries found that every increase in temperature of one degree Celsius was linked with a decrease in the alcohol-attributable fraction (AAF*) of cirrhosis of 0.3%. Heavy alcohol intake causes a perception of warmth, while fewer sunlight hours have been linked to depression which in turn, may lead to alcohol abuse. As a result, the researchers hypothesised that colder countries would have higher rates of alcohol consumption and therefore an increased burden of alcoholic cirrhosis.

Alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis makes up around half of all causes of liver cirrhosis and is responsible for an estimated 493,000 deaths globally every year, or 0.9% of deaths worldwide.1 According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europe is the heaviest drinking region in the world in terms of the prevalence of alcohol consumption.2 Alcohol is also a major cause of liver disease, including liver cirrhosis, which accounts for 1.8% of all deaths in Europe or around 170,000 deaths per year.3

"Our research reveals that a country's climate and geographical location have a startling influence on the burden of liver cirrhosis," said Dr Neil D. Shah, lead author of the study, and senior author, Dr Ramon Bataller, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, United States. "As average temperatures and yearly hours of sunshine decrease and latitude increases, rates of alcohol-attributable cirrhosis increase. This suggests that drinking alcohol excessively to combat the cold and dark could put people at increased risk of suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis."

The research team, made up of academics from Canada, Mexico, Spain and the USA, conducted a comprehensive analysis of data from 193 countries taken from WHO and World Meteorological Organization databases. This involved collating information on heavy alcohol consumption, binge drinking, average temperature, climate, latitude and hours of yearly sunshine, to determine their influence on alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis.

In the univariate analysis conducted by researchers, there was an inverse association between mean average temperature, mean annual sunshine hours and a positive association with absolute latitude (p<0.05) with AAF. In the multivariate analysis, average temperature and sunshine hours remained independently associated with the burden of alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis or AAF after adjusting for the percentage of binge drinkers among active drinkers and alcohol consumption (p<0.05).

"Although association does not imply causality, these provocative data provide a strong argument in favour of the hypothesis that the amount of alcohol intake, and, as a result, the risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis, depends on latitude. It remains to be seen to what extent other factors, such as ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds, may attenuate this association. This important study will certainly add to the current debate on what appropriate public policy measures are to be undertaken depending on climate to prevent alcohol-related cirrhosis," said Prof Francesco Negro, Divisions of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of Clinical Pathology, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland, and EASL Governing Board Member.

*AAFs are used to express the extent to which alcohol contributes to a health outcome, such as alcohol poisoning, non-alcohol poisoning, road traffic injuries, falls, drownings, violence, and other unintentional or intentional injuries.
-end-
About The International Liver Congress™

This annual congress is the biggest event in the EASL calendar, attracting scientific and medical experts from around the world to learn about the latest in liver research. Attending specialists present, share, debate and conclude on the latest science and research in hepatology, working to enhance the treatment and management of liver disease in clinical practice. This year, the congress is expected to attract approximately 10,000 delegates from all corners of the globe. The International Liver Congress™ 2017 will take place from April 19 - 23, at the RAI Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

About The European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL)

Since its foundation in 1966, this not-for-profit organisation has grown to over 4,000 members from all over the world, including many of the leading hepatologists in Europe and beyond. EASL is the leading liver association in Europe, having evolved into a major European Association with international influence, with an impressive track record in promoting research in liver disease, supporting wider education and promoting changes in European liver policy.

Contact

For more information, please contact the ILC Press Office at:Onsite location reference

Session title: Parallel session: Alcohol and drug induced liver injury
Time, date and location of session: 08:00 - 09:45, Saturday 22 April, Forum
Presenter: Neil Shah, United States of America
Abstract: Colder weather and fewer sunlight hours increase the weight of alcohol as a cause of cirrhosis worldwide (PS148), 08:30 - 08:45

Author disclosures

None.

References

1 Rehm J. et al. Global burden of alcoholic liver diseases. Journal of Hepatology. 2013;59.1:160-168.
2 World Health Organization. European Status Report on Alcohol and Health: World Health Organization. Regional Office for Europe; 2010. Available from: http://www.euro.who.int/en/publications/abstracts/european-status-report-on-alcohol-and-health-2010. Last accessed: April 2017.
3 Zato?ski W.A., et al. Liver cirrhosis mortality in Europe, with special attention to Central and Eastern Europe. European Addiction Research. 2010;16.4:193-201.

European Association for the Study of the Liver

Related Alcohol Consumption Articles:

Does alcohol consumption have an effect on arthritis?
Several previous studies have demonstrated that moderate alcohol consumption is linked with less severe disease and better quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, but a new Arthritis Care & Research study suggests that this might not be because drinking alcohol is beneficial.
Moderate alcohol consumption linked with high blood pressure
A study of more than 17,000 US adults shows that moderate alcohol consumption -- seven to 13 drinks per week -- substantially raises one's risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to research being presented at the American College of Cardiology's 68th Annual Scientific Session.
Is alcohol consumption more helpful than harmful? It depends on your age
Studies of health effects of alcohol consumption may underestimate the risks of imbibing, particularly for younger people, according to a new study in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
Link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer ignored by women most at risk
Middle aged women in Australia aren't getting the message about the proven link between alcohol consumption and breast cancer, at a time when more are drinking while cancer rates in their age bracket are increasing, according to a new study.
How much is too much? Even moderate alcohol consumption is a risk factor for atrial fibrillation
Excessive alcohol consumption is an established risk factor for atrial fibrillation (AF), but what are the effects of moderate and mild consumption on AF?
Moderate consumption of alcohol is associated with fewer hospitalizations
A study of the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of I.R.C.C.S.
Moderate alcohol consumption may boost male fertility
The question of whether alcohol intake affects male reproductive function is controversial.
Alcohol consumption is associated with nocturnal leg cramps
New research finds that, among patients over 60 years old, there is a strong association between consumption of alcoholic beverages and nocturnal leg cramps.
Substance in hair may be a marker for alcohol consumption
A new Drug Testing & Analysis study reveals that measuring levels of ethyl sulfate (EtS), a metabolite of ethanol, in the hair can be used to assess alcohol consumption.
Serving smaller alcoholic drinks could reduce the UK's alcohol consumption
New research published in Addiction, conducted by researchers from the universities of Liverpool and Sheffield, highlights the potential benefits of reducing the standard serving size of alcoholic beverages.
More Alcohol Consumption News and Alcohol Consumption Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Rethinking Anger
Anger is universal and complex: it can be quiet, festering, justified, vengeful, and destructive. This hour, TED speakers explore the many sides of anger, why we need it, and who's allowed to feel it. Guests include psychologists Ryan Martin and Russell Kolts, writer Soraya Chemaly, former talk radio host Lisa Fritsch, and business professor Dan Moshavi.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#538 Nobels and Astrophysics
This week we start with this year's physics Nobel Prize awarded to Jim Peebles, Michel Mayor, and Didier Queloz and finish with a discussion of the Nobel Prizes as a way to award and highlight important science. Are they still relevant? When science breakthroughs are built on the backs of hundreds -- and sometimes thousands -- of people's hard work, how do you pick just three to highlight? Join host Rachelle Saunders and astrophysicist, author, and science communicator Ethan Siegel for their chat about astrophysics and Nobel Prizes.