Rise in alcohol consumption linked to COVID-19 could increase liver disease death rates

Excessive alcohol consumption increased by 21% during the pandemic.

The increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic will lead to an additional 8,000 deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, new research shows.

In the study published in Hepatology, senior author Jagpreet Chhatwal, Ph.D., associate director of the Institute for Technology Assessment at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, and his colleagues used the data from a national survey of American adults on their drinking habits between February and November 2020.

They found that binge drinking (such as heavy drinking) increased by 21% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chhatwal and his colleagues then simulated the trajectories of alcohol use and trends in liver disease in all American adults.

They estimated that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to an additional 8,000 deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure and 1 000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.

In addition, in the short term, they expect changes in alcohol consumption due to COVID-19 to cause 100 more deaths and 2,800 more cases of liver failure by 2023.

The researchers noted that a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than a year could lead to an additional 19-35% mortality.

“Our results underscore the need for individuals and policy makers to make informed decisions to mitigate the impact of high-risk alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States,” said the author Principal Chhatwal in a press release on the study.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had “many unintended consequences with unknown long-term impact,” said co-author Turgay Ayer, Ph.D., George Family Foundation professor of systems engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Our modeling study provides a framework to quantify the long-term impact of increased alcohol consumption associated with COVID-19 and initiate conversations for potential interventions.”

“While we have projected the expected impact of societal changes related to alcohol consumption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic without any intervention, we hope that our research can help start the necessary conversations at all levels of the community. society on how we can respond to the many changes in behavior, coping mechanisms and choices that have short and long term implications for the health of individuals, families and communities in America, ”added the lead author Jovan Julien, MS, data analyst at MGH Institute for Technology Assessment and Ph.D. candidate at Georgia Institute of Technology.


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