Drinking too much alcohol during your teen years will increase the risk of developing liver diseases later on, according to a new study.
Researchers from the Karolinska University Hospital of Sweden revealed that men who drank 20 grams or more of alcohol each day during their adolescence are likelier to develop liver diseases, including liver cirrhosis or even liver-related deaths later in life.
The study mainly relied on a retrospective nation-wide study conducted during 1969-1970 of over 49 thousand Swedish young men aged 18 to 20. Scientists wanted to see if there was any correlation between high alcohol consumption during adolescence and liver disease development during adulthood.
39 years later, the researchers did a follow-up on the people involved with the previous study and found that 383 men developed life-threatening liver diseases later in their life, such as decompensated liver disease, liver cirrhosis, liver failure, or were killed by other liver diseases.
Some countries have their recommended cut-off levels for alcohol consumption at 30 grams per day, the equivalent of about three drinks.
“Our study showed that how much you drink in your late teens can predict the risk of developing cirrhosis later in life,” notes Hannes Hagstrom, lead investigator of the study.
Yet, the study suggests that even 20 grams or more of alcohol is a surefire way of increasing the risk of developing liver diseases in adulthood.
According to a 2014 report by the World Health Organization, alcohol is the primary cause of liver cirrhosis. The disease is said to kill aproximatelly 493,300 people each year.
The health risks were only valid for men, however, with further study being required to establish if women develop the same liver diseases later in life.
Dr. Hagstrom believes that current cut-off levels for alcohol consumption are not safe enough to avoid health problems. He hopes that this study will lead to lower cut-off levels so that we may “see a reduced incidence of alcoholic liver disease in the future”.
The study was published in the Journal of Hepatology.
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