FRIDAY, Oct. 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — For patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), modest alcohol consumption is associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality, while drinking 1.5 or more drinks per day may increase mortality, according to a study recently published in Hepatology.

Kaveh Hajifathalian, M.D., M.P.H., from New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, and colleagues obtained data on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey participants from 1988 to 2010 and linked them to the National Death Index to examine the effect of alcohol consumption on survival in NAFLD; 4,568 participants with NAFLD were included in the analysis. NAFLD was diagnosed based on a previously validated biochemical model.

The researchers found that drinking 0.5 to 1.5 drinks per day was associated with a decreased risk for overall mortality compared with not drinking (hazard ratio [HR], 0.59; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.4 to 0.85; P = 0.005) in a model adjusted for age, sex, and smoking history. There was a trend toward harm for drinking ≥1.5 drinks per day (HR, 1.16; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.99 to 1.36; P = 0.119). The protective effect of drinking 0.5 to 1.5 drinks per day remained significant after further adjustment for race, physical activity, education level, diabetes, and fiber and polyunsaturated fat intake (HR, 0.64; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.42 to 0.97; P = 0.035), and drinking ≥1.5 drinks per day showed a significant harmful effect after adjustment (HR, 1.45; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.01 to 2.1; P = 0.047).

“These results help to inform the discussion of potential risks and benefits of alcohol use in patients with NAFLD,” the authors write.

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