Covid: the Covid-19 pandemic is causing an increase in cases of liver disease

A new study published in Liver International has found that the number of people with liver disease has increased due to the pandemic. The specific reason for the increase has been identified as the lifestyle changes people have made during the pandemic. The retrospective study compared data from before and after the pandemic. It is in these data that lifestyle changes were established as the root cause.

Speaking about the results, study author Dr Hideki Fujii said: “Before the pandemic, we found routine late-night meals, or dinner two hours before bedtime, as a predictor lifestyle independent of the development of MAFLD (fatty liver disease associated with metabolic dysfunction). ).

“However, the analysis showed higher daily alcohol consumption as an independent predictor of disease during the pandemic.”

Dr Fujii said more work needed to be done “to closely monitor and address this lifestyle change as the pandemic continues”.

Speaking of alcohol consumption, there has been speculation about the extent to which drinking habits have changed during the nationwide lockdowns.

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A study published by the University of Sheffield found: “Although people overall drank less, there is evidence from other studies that heavy drinkers may have increased their drinking during lockdown.

“It will therefore be important to continue monitoring alcohol consumption during the pandemic to prevent additional health problems.”

Co-author of the 2021 report, Professor John Holmes, added: “These results add to our understanding of how different groups changed their alcohol consumption during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While we saw a decrease in alcohol consumption across the population as a whole, there was an increase in alcohol consumption alone among certain population subgroups such as single adult households. , households of three or more adults and students.”


Alcohol is often cited as the main cause of fatty liver disease.

However, not all liver disease is caused by alcohol.

Some, like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, are caused by a buildup of fat in the liver.

Early-stage non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, for short, doesn’t normally cause much harm.

The most advanced stage of NAFLD is cirrhosis of the liver.

Patients who have reached this stage tend to have jaundice, itchy skin, and swelling of the ankles, feet, abdomen (belly), and legs.

The NHS says: “See a GP urgently or call 111 if you have any of these symptoms and have liver disease.”

Meanwhile, advice on reducing alcohol consumption is available through the NHS or a consultation with your GP.

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