Obesity can increase damage to the liver caused by drinking
alcohol, a new study shows, and in women can double the risk of liver
disease.

New research shows that drinking is harder on the liver when
drinkers are overweight. Experts say the combination of drinking too
much and weighing too much is almost like a double whammy on the liver.
Obese women who drink little more than a glass of wine a day have
double the risk of liver disease compared with those who are slimmer, a
study recently published in the British Medical Journal suggests.

“Excess body weight clearly makes an independent contribution to
rates of liver cirrhosis, and in middle-age women we estimated this to
be about 17 percent of all cirrhosis-related hospital admissions and
deaths, or almost half of the proportion attributable to alcohol,” said
lead researcher Dr. Bette Liu of Oxford’s Cancer Epidemiology Unit said.

A similar study conducted by scientists a the University of Glasgow
and the University of Bristol suggested the effects in men are similar,
with male overweight drinkers showing an elevated risk of liver
disease. According to the study, obese men who drank 15 or more units a
week are 19 times more likely to develop the condition.

Liver disease is a leading cause of early death in the United
States, according to Dr. Robert Brown, director of the Center for Liver
Disease at New York Presbyterian Hospital. Nonalcoholic fatty liver
disease, which is caused by obesity and diabetes but not excess
drinking, is also on the rise.

Researchers from both studies urge people to not only reduce their
body weight, but also limit alcohol consumption in order to protect
themselves against cirrhosis of the liver.

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