"A wine drinker, being at a table, was offered grapes at dessert. 'Thank you,' he said, pushing the dish away from him, 'but I'm not in the habit of taking my wine in pills.'" - Brillat-Savarin
A new study from researchers at UC San Diego School of Medicine shows that modest wine consumption, defined as one glass a day, may not only be safe for the liver, but may actually decrease the prevalence of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
It's interesting to note how often we see positive news about the benefits of daily wine consumption.
The study, which appears in the June 2008 issue of the journal Hepatology, showed that for individuals who reported drinking up to one glass of wine per day, as compared to no alcohol consumption, the risk of liver disease due to NAFLD was cut in half. In contrast, compared with wine drinkers, individuals who reported modest consumption of beer or liquor had over four (4) times the odds of having suspected NAFLD.
NAFLD is the most common liver disease in the United States, affecting over 40 million adults. Previous research has shown that as many as five percent of adults with NAFLD will develop cirrhosis. The major risk factors for NAFLD are similar to many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease—obesity, diabetes, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Multiple studies have shown that modest alcohol consumption may reduce the risk for heart disease. However, recommendations for modest alcohol consumption in individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease have overlooked that these same people are also at an increased risk for NAFLD. Thus, there exists a dilemma as to whether modest alcohol consumption for the heart is safe in regards to the liver. The UC San Diego investigators sought to clarify this important question.
Research did not provide any support for drinking larger amounts. “We want to emphasize that people at risk for alcohol abuse should not consider consuming wine or any other alcoholic beverage,” said Schwimmer, who also pointed out that, although this is the first study to address this important dilemma, the findings do not address those who already have liver disease and should not be drinking alcohol at all.
“Because this effect was only seen with wine, not in beer or liquor, further studies will be needed to determine whether the benefits seen were due to the alcohol or non-alcohol components of wine,” added Schwimmer.