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Alcohol consumption in the general population is associated with structural changes in multiple organ systems.

  • Evangelou, E
  • Suzuki, H
  • Bai, W
  • Pazoki, R
  • Gao, H
  • Matthews, P
  • Elliott, P
Publication Date
May 04, 2021
UPCommons. Portal del coneixement obert de la UPC
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Background: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with damage to various organs, but its multi-organ effects have not been characterised across the usual range of alcohol drinking in a large general population sample. Methods: We assessed global effect sizes of alcohol consumption on quantitative magnetic resonance imaging phenotypic measures of the brain, heart, aorta, and liver of UK Biobank participants who reported drinking alcohol. Results: We found a monotonic association of higher alcohol consumption with lower normalised brain volume across the range of alcohol intakes (–1.7 × 10−3 ± 0.76 × 10−3 per doubling of alcohol consumption, p=3.0 × 10−14). Alcohol consumption was also associated directly with measures of left ventricular mass index and left ventricular and atrial volume indices. Liver fat increased by a mean of 0.15% per doubling of alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Our results imply that there is not a ‘safe threshold’ below which there are no toxic effects of alcohol. Current public health guidelines concerning alcohol consumption may need to be revisited.

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