Alcohol consumption in the general population is associated with structural changes in multiple organ systems

Evangelos Evangelou, Hideaki Suzuki, Wenjia Bai, Raha Pazoki, He Gao, Paul M. Matthews, Paul Elliott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with damage to various organs, but its multi-organ effects have not been characterised across the usual range of alcohol drinking in a large general population sample. Methods: We assessed global effect sizes of alcohol consumption on quantitative magnetic resonance imaging phenotypic measures of the brain, heart, aorta, and liver of UK Biobank participants who reported drinking alcohol. Results: We found a monotonic association of higher alcohol consumption with lower normalised brain volume across the range of alcohol intakes (–1.7 ☓ 103 ± 0.76 ☓ 103 per doubling of alcohol consumption, p=3.0 ☓ 1014 ). Alcohol consumption was also associated directly with measures of left ventricular mass index and left ventricular and atrial volume indices. Liver fat increased by a mean of 0.15% per doubling of alcohol consumption. Conclusions: Our results imply that there is not a ‘safe threshold’ below which there are no toxic effects of alcohol. Current public health guidelines concerning alcohol consumption may need to be revisited.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere65325
JournaleLife
Volume10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)

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