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Abstract

Though the hepatotoxicity of ethanol has been established, only 8% to 20% of chronic alcoholics develop cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to assess whether being overweight is a risk factor for alcoholic liver disease. One thousand six hundred four alcoholic patients were studied. According to the liver biopsies, 194 patients had a normal liver; 402 had steatosis without fibrosis; 281 presented with fibrosis, with or without steatosis; 119 presented with acute alcoholic hepatitis (AAH) without cirrhosis; 232 indicated cirrhosis without AAH; and 179 presented with cirrhosis with AAH. One hundred ninety-seven patients had clinically obvious cirrhosis. In the study, five variables were studied as risk factors: age, sex, daily consumption of alcohol during the previous 5 years, the total duration of alcohol abuse, and tendency to be overweight (body mass index [BMI] ≥ 25 in women and ≥ 27 in men). The BMI was calculated according to the minimum weight over the 10 previous years. In the first stepwise logistic regression analysis, age, being overweight for at least 10 years, being of the female sex, and the total duration of alcohol abuse were independently correlated with the presence of cirrhosis. In the second analysis, female sex being overweight were the two independent risk factors of AAH. In the third analysis, being overweight for at least 10 years was the only independent risk factor of steatosis. These results show that the presence of excess weight for at least 10 years is a risk factor for cirrhosis, AAH, and steatosis. Our results suggest that there is a possible potential for the metabolic effects of ethanol ingestion caused by excess weight in patients with alcoholic liver disease.