A group of researchers in France have reported this month that drinking excessive amounts of wine does not exempt us from the disease cirrhosis, and that it is just as likely to affect heavy wine drinkers as heavy drinkers of other beverages.
The researchers noted that while it was thought that all alcoholic beverages share a similar liver toxicity when drunk at a high level, recent epidemiological surveys have suggested that wine drinking might decrease the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis in heavy drinkers. Therefore, they set out to analyse the type and the intake levels of alcoholic beverages in heavy drinkers according to the severity of the liver disease.
The team performed a case-control study on 42 cirrhotic and 60 non-cirrhotic patients. Liver status was assessed using clinical, biological, histological and ultrasonographic procedures. Alcohol consumption was recorded using the Lifetime Drinking History method.
The authors reported: "We did not find any significant differences in total alcohol consumption between cases and controls and, moreover, in our series, the relative percentage of pure alcohol drunk in wine was significantly higher in cirrhotic, than in non-cirrhotic, patients."
"Our results confirm that the absence of a link between the type of alcoholic beverage and the occurrence of cirrhosis is still valid," they concluded.
The researchers did however note that cirrhosis may be affected by other factors, such as genes, nutrition and age.
"Altogether, drinking heavily after the age of 45 might be critical for the liver, particularly, also in view of the age-related immunological disturbances," they said.