- DALLAS (Reuters) - Social
drinking may actually be good for your liver rather than damaging, according
to preliminary results of new research on rats presented Monday.
- The study found that the equivalent of one or two drinks
a day appeared to help the damaged livers of lab rats repair themselves,
according to a paper by Dr. Gerald Minuk of the University of Manitoba,
- ``This finding raises the possibility that 'social drinking'
may not have an adverse effect on the natural history of acute or chronic
liver disease,'' Minuk wrote in a summary of his report to the annual meeting
of the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) in Dallas.
- Heavy alcohol use by the rats hindered the liver's ability
to recover from damage, as expected, while moderate alcohol use appeared
to have a neutral effect, according to the study.
- The findings are preliminary and may not translate from
rats to humans, Minuk cautioned.
- ``As liver disease specialists, we certainly don't want
to provide the population with an excuse to abuse alcohol or somehow damage
their health,'' he told Reuters by telephone from his Manitoba office.
- But if the results are found to apply to humans, Minuk
said, it could mean that ``in certain clinical conditions where patients
do not have alcohol abuse problems, one or two drinks per day of alcohol
might be considered beneficial rather than harmful to the liver.''
- Alcohol abuse has long been known as a cause of liver
damage and disease, such as cirrhosis.
- Minuk said his group launched the research because of
the resurgence of moderate drinking based on widely publicized studies
that suggest a daily glass or two of wine can help prevent heart disease
- Researchers had not previously studied what health effects
this moderate drinking can have on the liver, which is where the body metabolizes
alcohol, Minuk said.
- In their study, Minuk's group tested the effects of heavy,
moderate and light alcohol consumption on rats that had had 70 percent
of their livers surgically removed.
- They found a partial regeneration of the liver in the
rats that consumed light amounts of alcohol, roughly the equivalent of
one or two drinks a day for a human.
- Moderate alcohol consumption, about the same as two to
three drinks a day, appeared to have no effect either way while heavy drinking
equivalent to four drinks or more a day inhibited liver repair in the rats.