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Cold weather, fewer sun hours increase alcoholic cirrhosis

London: People in colder and less sunny regions of the world have higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive drinking which results in irreversible scarring of the liver, scientists have found.

A new data from more than 190 countries presented on Saturday at the International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, suggests that every increase in temperature of one degree Celsius was linked with a decrease in the alcohol-attributable fraction (AAF) of cirrhosis of 0.3 per cent.

Heavy alcohol intake causes a perception of warmth, while fewer sunlight hours have been linked to depression, which, in turn, may lead to alcohol abuse. As a result, the researchers hypothesised that colder countries would have higher rates of alcohol consumption and therefore an increased burden of alcoholic cirrhosis.

“Our research reveals that a country’s climate and geographical location have a startling influence on the burden of liver cirrhosis,” said lead author Dr Neil D. Shah, and senior author Dr Ramon Bataller from the University of North Carolina.

“As average temperatures and yearly hours of sunshine decrease and latitude increases, rates of alcohol-attributable cirrhosis increase. This suggests that drinking alcohol excessively to combat the cold and dark could put people at increased risk of suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis.”

In the univariate analysis conducted by researchers, there was an inverse association between mean average temperature, mean annual sunshine hours and a positive association with absolute latitude with AAF.

In the multivariate analysis, average temperature and sunshine hours remained independently associated with the burden of alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis or AAF after adjusting for the percentage of binge drinkers among active drinkers and alcohol consumption.

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