Association between alcohol use behavior and liver fat in the Framingham Heart Study
MetadataShow full item record
Many individuals presumed to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) consume moderate amounts of alcohol; however, little is known regarding patterns of alcohol use and how drinking behaviors may influence liver fat. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 2,475 participants of the Framingham Heart Study who underwent computed tomography (CT) to define liver fat. We performed multivariable-adjusted logistic regression models for the association between different alcohol drinking patterns, including the average alcoholic drinks/week, frequency of alcohol use, usual quantity of alcohol consumed, maximum drinks consumed in 24 hours, and binge drinking behavior, and CT-defined hepatic steatosis. We excluded heavy alcohol users defined as women who drink > 14 drinks/week and men who drink > 21 drinks/week. We also performed an analysis specific to beverage type (beer, wine, or liquor/spirit drinks).The prevalence of hepatic steatosis in our study sample (mean age ± standard deviation (SD) 49.8±10.2, 50.3% women) was 17.5%. Among individuals with presumed NAFLD, binge drinking occurred in 25.4% of individuals. In adjusted models, the odds of hepatic steatosis increased by 20% for each SD increase in the number of alcoholic drinks consumed per week (OR 1.20; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.08, 1.36). Frequency of alcohol use (drinking days/week) was also associated with hepatic steatosis (OR 1.09; 95% CI 1.03, 1.15). The odds of hepatic steatosis increased by 15% for each SD increase in the maximum drinks per week (OR 1.15; 95% CI 1.02, 1.30). In the beverage specific analysis, alcohol use patterns were associated with hepatic steatosis among beer drinkers, but no significant associations were observed among wine drinkers. Conclusions: Even after excluding heavy alcohol users from our sample, alcohol use contributed to liver fat, which suggests alcohol-related liver fat may be present among individuals presumed to have NAFLD. Additional prospective studies are needed to validate our findings and to determine if more comprehensive alcohol use screening tools should be used in practice or clinical trial settings.