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Surprising Science

“Double Whammy”

A new study shows that being overweight doubles the effect of alcohol on the liver, substantially increasing the likelihood of contracting diseases like cirrhosis.

A new study shows that being overweight doubles the effect of alcohol on the liver, substantially increasing the likelihood of contracting diseases like cirrhosis. “Two studies of more than a million UK men and women suggest excess weight and alcohol act together to raise the risk of cirrhosis and other liver diseases. Obese women who drink little more than a glass of wine a day have almost double the risk of liver disease than other women, the researchers said.


A similar effect is seen in men, the British Medical Journal reported. The authors of the research said ‘safe’ alcohol limits for the overweight may need to be redefined. Rates of liver disease and obesity are increasing in the UK. Alcohol is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and there is mounting evidence that excess weight also plays a role. In the first study, researchers at the University of Oxford studied more than a million middle-aged women in England and Wales. They found that being overweight or obese increased the likelihood of developing liver cirrhosis. Obese men who said they drank 15 or more units a week had the greatest risk of liver disease; almost 19 times higher than those who were slim.”


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