MONDAY, Dec. 27, 2021 (HealthDay News) — The short-term increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to substantially increase the morbidity and mortality associated with long-term alcohol-related liver disease (ALD), according to a study published online Dec. 8 in Hepatology.

Jovan Julien, from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, and colleagues extended a previously validated microsimulation model to estimate the short- and long-term effect of increased drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic in U.S. individuals born between 1920 and 2012.

The researchers found that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to result in 8,000 additional ALD-related deaths, 18,700 cases of decompensated cirrhosis, 1,000 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, and 8.9 million disability-adjusted life-years between 2020 and 2040. Alcohol consumption changes due to COVID-19 will lead to 100 additional deaths and 2,800 additional decompensated cirrhosis cases between 2020 and 2023. Additional morbidity and mortality are anticipated with a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than one year.

“While we have projected the expected impact of societal drinking changes associated with the COVID-19 pandemic without any interventions, we hope that our research can help jumpstart needed conversations at every level of society about how we can respond to the many behavioral changes, coping mechanisms, and choices that have short- and long-term implications for the health of individuals, families, and communities in America,” Julien said in a statement.

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