Alcohol Abuse Linked To More Diseases

A total of 61 diseases are now associated with alcohol abuse, reveals a new study by researchers in China and the UK.

Asian Scientist Magazine (Aug. 08, 2023) — Researchers from Peking University in China and Oxford Population Health in the UK have uncovered alarming evidence that links alcohol consumption to a large number of diseases. The study published in Nature Medicine, revealed a list of 33 diseases including gout, cataract, fractures and gastric ulcers in addition to the 28 diseases already known to be linked with drinking alcohol.

Alcohol consumption remains a global health concern, responsible for nearly 3 million deaths annually worldwide. While past research has identified connections between alcohol and certain diseases, this study provides a systematic analysis of the overall medical impact of drinking within the Chinese male population. The findings indicate that alcohol intake is associated with a total of 61 diseases among Chinese men, demonstrating a need for urgent preventative measures.

The study’s methodology involved collecting extensive health information and lifestyle data from the China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB) at Peking University, which included in-depth interviews about alcohol consumption habits among the study participants. Over a 12-year period, the researchers carefully monitored medical diagnoses, enabling them to establish causal relationships between alcohol intake and disease development. The data analysis included genetic investigations, specifically looking at the ALDH2-rs671 and ADH1B-rs1229984 genotypes, which are known to affect alcohol metabolism.

Professor Li Liming, a senior author and co-PI at CKB, emphasized the significance of the study in the context of China’s changing drinking habits. “Levels of alcohol consumption are rising in China, particularly among men. This large collaborative study demonstrates a need to strengthen alcohol control policies in China,” said Professor Li Liming in an article published in EurekAlert.

One of the key takeaways from the research is the identification of diseases not previously considered alcohol-related. The study discovered strong links between alcohol consumption and diseases such as cataracts and gout, indicating that the harmful effects of alcohol extend beyond the widely recognized associations with liver cirrhosis, stroke, and cancer. This revelation broadens our understanding of alcohol’s impact on health and highlights the need for greater public awareness and targeted interventions.

The study emphasizes the significance of creating global prevention strategies. “This study provides important causal evidence of the scale of alcohol-related harms, which is critical to inform prevention strategies in different countries,” said Zhengming Chen, Richard Peto Professor of Epidemiology at the Oxford Population Health.

While the study primarily focused on Chinese men due to the low alcohol consumption rates among Chinese women, the genetic findings suggest that the increased disease risks observed in men are not solely due to genetic factors. Instead, they are linked to alcohol consumption habits, reinforcing the importance of public health policies and awareness campaigns.

The implications of this study are far-reaching, not only for China but also for other countries grappling with rising alcohol-related health risks.

Source: Peking University; Image: Unsplash

The article can be found at: Alcohol consumption and risks of more than 200 diseases in Chinese men.

Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.




Parvaiz Yousuf is a science journalist and researcher based in Kashmir, India.

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