New research has found that moving from moderate to heavy daily drinking, up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men – increases liver cirrhosis risk.

The researchers analysed the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health, which included parameters of alcohol consumption and drinking patterns from 193 countries.

The data showed that the cirrhosis burden caused by alcohol increased by 11.13 percent when moving from the moderate to heavy daily drinking classification. “The presence of heavy daily drinkers in a population most significantly and independently influences the weight of alcohol in a country’s cirrhosis burden,” said one of the researchers Eva Stein from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

According to the WHO, excessive alcohol drinking is the most common cause of cirrhosis worldwide. Most studies assessing the prevalence of alcohol abuse as a risk factor for alcoholic cirrhosis focus on total annual amount drunk per person. However, the researchers highlight that clinical studies suggest that it is a high daily consumption which is the strongest predictor of alcoholic cirrhosis.

According to WHO’s “Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health”, around six percent of global deaths are caused by drinking alcohol, the majority from alcoholic cirrhosis – scarring of the liver as a result of continuous, long-term liver damage. Half of all cases of cirrhosis are caused by alcohol.

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