Hispanics who use alcohol heavily develop alcoholic liver disease (ALD) four to twelve years earlier than Caucasians or African Americans with similar usage, according to a new study published in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.”
“Clinicians typically evaluate older patients for liver disease when moderate or heavy alcohol use has been long-term,” said senior author Valentina Medici, associate professor of internal medicine. “We should be more aggressive in counseling patients about the importance of sobriety and testing them for ALD at younger ages, especially our Hispanic patients.”
The study is important, because early diagnosis of liver problems can lead to more successful treatment.
The results showed that the average ages of onset of alcoholic fatty liver is 41-years-old for Hispanic patients, 51 for Whites/Caucasians and 53 for African Americans. This is the first stage of ALD and the point at which intervention can be most successful at reversing liver damage.
The results of the study may affect treatment, and may also help researchers to better understand ALD.
“Our findings suggest that alcoholic liver disease is caused by more than chronic alcoholism,” said Charles Halsted, a study co-author and professor of internal medicine. “Future research should focus on genetic, metabolic and environmental factors that may increase the susceptibility of Hispanics to this disease.”