Alcohol drinking pattern and risk of alcoholic liver cirrhosis: A prospective cohort study

Published:January 25, 2015DOI:

      Background & Aims

      Alcohol is the main contributing factor of alcoholic cirrhosis, but less is known about the significance of drinking pattern.


      We investigated the risk of alcoholic cirrhosis among 55,917 participants (aged 50–64 years) in the Danish Cancer, Diet, and Health study (1993–2011). Baseline information on alcohol intake, drinking pattern, and confounders was obtained from a questionnaire. Follow-up information came from national registers. We calculated hazard ratios (HRs) for alcoholic cirrhosis in relation to drinking frequency, lifetime alcohol amount, and beverage type.


      We observed 257 and 85 incident cases of alcoholic cirrhosis among men and women, respectively, none among lifetime abstainers. In men, HR for alcoholic cirrhosis among daily drinkers was 3.65 (95% CI: 2.39; 5.55) compared to drinking 2–4 days/week. Alcohol amount in recent age periods (40–49 and 50–59 years) was associated with an increased risk, whereas the amount in 20–29 and 30–39 years was not. In men drinking 14–28 drinks/week, HR was 7.47 (95% CI: 1.68; 33.12), 3.12 (95% CI: 1.53; 6.39), and 1.69 (95% CI: 0.79; 3.65) in drinkers of little (<1% of weekly amount), some (1–15%), and mostly wine (50–100%), compared to drinking <14 drinks/week. In general, results were similar for women.


      In men, daily drinking was associated with an increased risk of alcoholic cirrhosis. Recent alcohol consumption rather than earlier in life was associated with risk of alcoholic cirrhosis. Compared to beer and liquor, wine might be associated with a lower risk of alcoholic cirrhosis.

      Graphical abstract


      HR (hazard ratio)


      Linked Article

      • Patterns of drinking and liver cirrhosis – What do we know and where do we go?
        Journal of HepatologyVol. 62Issue 5
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          Askgaard and colleagues [1] contribute to our understanding of the etiology of liver cirrhosis in this issue of the Journal of Hepatology. This is a timely contribution about one of the most important, if not the most important, risk factors for liver cirrhosis globally [2], as our overall knowledge about drinking patterns and liver cirrhosis is sparse and in part contradictory. In fact, liver cirrhosis as a whole has been included into a recent listing of “forgotten” non-communicable diseases [3].
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