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Abstract

The association between self-reported alcohol intake and the risk of future liver disease was studied in a large population-based prospective cohort with 12-year follow-up. Alcohol intake was assessed in 13,285 men and women aged 30 to 79 years by a self-administered questionnaire. Diagnoses indicating alcohol-induced liver disease (n − 261) or alcohol-induced cirrhosis (n − 124) were obtained from death certificates and the hospital discharge register, and data were analyzed by multiplicative Poisson regression models. The total cumulated observation time was 130,558 person-years. The overall incidence rates of alcohol-induced cirrhosis were 0.2% per year in men and 0.03% per year in women. The nadir of the estimated relative risk of developing liver disease was observed at an alcohol intake of 1 to 6 beverages per week, and above this level a steep increase in relative risk was observed. The risk function was independent of age and stable over time. The level of alcohol intake above which the relative risk was significantly greater than 1 was observed at 7 to 13 beverages per week for women and 14 to 27 beverages per week for men. Women had a significantly higher relative risk of developing alcohol-related liver disease than men for any given level of alcohol intake. We observed a dose-dependent increase in relative risk of developing alcohol-induced liver disease for both men and women, with the steepest increase among women. In the general population, self-reported current alcohol intake is a good predictor of the future risk of alcohol-induced liver disease.