Introduction The relationship between development of ALD (which affects only 10–15% of heavy drinkers) and rate, duration and age of onset of alcohol consumption is incompletely understood. We have previously reported on total lifetime alcohol consumption in two cohorts of heavy drinkers ( > 60 Units/wk(M) or > 40 Units/wk(F) for ≥ 5 years): one (patients) with decompensated ALD (Child Grade B or C, negative tests for other liver diseases) and one (controls) without serious liver disease on clinical, laboratory and ultrasound examination. Here, we aimed to compare alcohol consumption patterns in these cohorts in more detail.
Methods Subjects (330 patients, 234 male, mean age 48 yr and 238 heavy-drinking controls, 187 male, mean age 48 yr) completed a lifetime alcohol questionnaire. Alcohol consumption was calculated at home and outside home, and during Monday-Thursday and Friday-Sunday. Data were summed over each stable drinking period during the subject’s lifetime. We calculated (a) total duration, and age at start and at cessation of all periods during which the subject drank > 0, > 40, > 80, > 120 and > 160 units(U)/wk and (b) percent of drinking career engaged in: regular drinking, drinking < 5 days per week, weekend drinking and not drinking.
Neither total duration of periods consuming > 0, > 40, > 80, > 120, and > 160 U alcohol/wk (table) mean weekly consumption during those periods (not shown) differed significantly between patients and controls. However, patients first started drinking over each level at an older age than did controls (table). The relationships between ALD and age of starting drinking > 0, > 40, > 80, > 120 and > 160 U/week persisted in multivariate analysis (p = 0.00–0.013). Subjects spent 83(63–97)% of their careers in regular drinking, with no case-control differences.
Conclusion Development of decompensated ALD in heavy drinkers is associated with starting heavy drinking at an older age.
Disclosure of Interest None Declared
J Hepatol 2012; 56:S53