You may be at risk of alcoholic liver damage even if you don’t drink alcohol

As recently as 2018, it was reported in The Lancet that there was no safe level of alcohol. The Lancet is a leading international journal in health and allied matters.

The study in The Lancet found that at the root of many non-communicable diseases was the risk factor of alcohol consumption.

The implication is that even if alcohol is taken in moderation, the person consuming it can still experience damage to the body – and the effects could be immediate or delayed.

But such alcohol mediated damage to the body especially to the liver can still occur even in non-alcohol drinkers, a new study has found.

The study published today in the Journal of Cell Metabolism found that alcohol-producing bacteria, Klebsiella pneumonia, was in more than 60% of patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), compared to 6% of healthy subjects.

NAFLD is the accumulation of fat in liver cells for reasons other than alcohol consumption. It affects an estimated 20% to 40% of the US population.

It is a chronic condition that ultimately could cause scarring of the liver and progress to liver cirrhosis.

NAFLD is also closely linked to certain conditions like obesity, diabetes and heightened risks of cardiovascular disease.

In those who indulge in alcohol intake, the alcohol mediates a fat metabolism pathway that allows excess fat to gather in liver cells.

Also, in some groups of people who do not drink alcohol, it has been found that their liver cells have an accumulation of fat cells, similar to those of individuals who consume alcohol.

In this group, this “alcohol-free” induction of fat cell accumulation has been dubbed NAFLD.

However, with the new study, NAFLD aetiology may not be “alcohol-free” afterall. This may be because of bacterial activities that are generating alcohol in them.

The full details of the study is available from here.

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona

Samuel Abiona is a medical doctor by training and a writer by passion. Samuel holds a postgraduate degree in Public Health. He believes that communicating medical knowledge goes beyond writing technical reviews. Samuel thus uses his expertise in public health and health systems research to transmit technical information for both academic and general audience. Please email to contact this author directly or use the contact page and your information will be passed on to him.