Differential Effects of Alcohol Drinking Pattern on Liver Enzymes in Men and Women
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BACKGROUND: Increasing evidence suggests that drinking pattern may have powerful implications for health; however, very few studies have focused on the association between drinking pattern and risk of alcoholic liver damage. This study was aimed at examining the association of gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), aspartate aminotransferase, and alanine aminotransferase with current alcohol consumption and with some aspects of drinking pattern (e.g., drinking frequency during the week and in relation to food consumption). METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis was conducted of a random sample of 2943 white residents of Erie and Niagara Counties in New York State who were 35 to 80 years of age and free from known hepatic disease. RESULTS: The most significant associations were found for GGT; in both sexes, average levels were significantly higher in current and former drinkers compared with lifetime abstainers. In analyses based on quartiles of alcohol consumption, only participants in the two top quartiles showed significantly elevated enzymes compared with both lifetime abstainers and participants in other quartiles. For drinking pattern, there was evidence of sex-specific associations. In men, daily drinkers showed the highest levels of GGT, whereas in women, the highest level of GGT was observed in weekend drinkers. Women (but not men) who consumed alcohol without food exhibited higher levels of GGT compared with women who consumed alcoholic beverages in relation to food. CONCLUSIONS: These findings support the hypothesis that, in addition to amount, drinking pattern may affect liver function and that differences exist between sexes with regard to the effect of drinking pattern on liver function and potential liver damage.
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