Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Alcohol Does Not Prevent CVD in Individuals With NAFLD

While alcohol might reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) among the general population, individuals with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) might not experience these benefits, according to the findings of a recent study.

In their study, the researchers analyzed the data of 5115 black and white patients aged 18 to 30 years who participated in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Patients were recruited from 4 US cities from 1985 through 1986 and were followed for 25 years. Participants reported alcohol intake at baseline and at 15-, 20-, and 25-year follow-up. They were classified as drinkers (1 to 21 drinks per week for men and 1 to 14 drinks per week for women) or nondrinkers (no alcohol use) based on data obtained at follow-ups.
Moderate Alcohol Intake May Reduce Mortality Risk
Alcohol Could Prevent Cognitive Decline in Older Adults
Does Alcohol Consumption Affect Diabetes Risk?
Participants underwent computed tomography scans, which examined the thorax and abdomen, and tissue Doppler echocardiography with myocardial strain measured by speckle tracking at year 25. The researchers defined coronary artery calcification as an Agatston score higher than 0, and NAFLD was defined as liver attenuation less than 51 Hounsfield Units after exclusions.

After 25 years of follow-up, 570 participants had been diagnosed with NAFLD, 332 (58%) of whom were drinkers. A higher proportion of drinkers had obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome compared with nondrinkers.

The researchers found no difference in liver attenuation between groups and no associations between alcohol use and CVD factors or subclinical CVD measures. 

“In a population-based sample of individuals with NAFLD in midlife, prospectively assessed alcohol use is not associated with significant differences in risk factors for CVD or markers of subclinical CVD,” the researchers concluded. “In contrast to general population findings, alcohol use may not reduce risk of CVD in patients with NAFLD.”

—Melissa Weiss


VanWagner LB, Ning H, Allen NB, et al. Alcohol use and cardiovascular disease risk in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease [published online August 9, 2017]. Gastroenterology.