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Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011; 33: 378–388

Summary

Background  Moderate alcohol consumption may have certain beneficial effects against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is associated with metabolic syndrome.

Aim  To determine the association between drinking pattern and fatty liver in Japanese men and women.

Methods  A cross-sectional study was performed with health checkup data including information concerning alcohol consumption and ultrasonographic assessment of fatty liver.

Results  We analysed 4957 men and 2155 women without reported liver diseases (median age, 49 years). In men, 40% of nondrinkers and 28% of drinkers had fatty liver. Alcohol consumption was inversely associated with fatty liver (adjusted odds ratio, 0.54; 95% confidence interval, 0.46–0.63). The prevalence of fatty liver in each category of drinking frequency was 38% (1–3 days/week), 29% (4–6 days/week), and 24% (daily drinking); there was a significant inverse correlation between drinking frequency and the prevalence of fatty liver (< 0.001). In women, 16% of nondrinkers and 10% of drinkers had fatty liver. Drinking less than 20 g on 1–3 days/week was associated with low prevalence of fatty liver (adjusted odds ratio, 0.47; 95% confidence interval, 0.23–0.96).

Conclusions  Alcohol consumption appears to protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.