According to the Liver Foundation, approximately 10 to 20 percent of chronic alcohol consumers develop alcohol cirrhosis. The condition replaces healthy soft tissue with heavy scarring, which prevents normal organ function.
A recent study performed by a group of researchers led by Neil Shah M.D. from the University of North Carolina uncovered data which suggests there is a higher prevalence of the problem in regions that have a cold climate.
The Alcohol Cirrhosis Relation to Cold Climate Was Presented During the International Liver Congress
When presenting research data at an annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, Dr. Shah suggested people really do consume alcohol to stay warm. The group obtained data for 193 countries from the World Health Organization. This concerned alcohol use, liver disease, cirrhosis and binge drinkers.
The information regarding climate came from the World Meteorological Organization. It included the topics of average temperature, hours of annual sunshine, latitude, and prominent climate types.
The group analyzed the data to determine correlations between alcohol cirrhosis and the climate. These were studied along with the cirrhosis-related death rates. Data seemed to indicate that for every degree of temperature increase there was a 0.3 percent decrease in alcohol-associated cirrhosis. Based on this discovery, the team concluded that regions with colder temperatures and fewer days of sunshine also reported an increase in alcohol cirrhosis cases.
Science has proven the correlation between warm climates, the hours of sunshine and a reduced risk of depression. Dr. Shah believes the same factors have the potential to influence alcohol use. However, he also pointed out one does not necessarily cause the other.
Helena Cortez-Pinto, MD, a Ph.D. from the University of Lisbon expressed that many other factors come into play. Some of these factors include culture, the ethnicity, and religious beliefs. Dr. Shah believes the information could serve as a starting point for communities located in a cold climate. It could help them initiate policies to prevent alcohol-related cirrhosis.
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