Alcohol consumption

Rise in alcohol consumption during COVID-19 pandemic expected to cause more liver disease and death

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Rising alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to lead to 100 additional deaths and 2,800 additional cases of Hepatic insufficiency by 2023, according to a team of researchers led by investigators from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had many unintended consequences with unknown long-term impact,” study co-author Dr. Turgay Ayer said in a statement. Press release.

According to research published in the journal Hepatology, the researchers also projected that a year-long increase in alcohol consumption during the pandemic would lead to 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease. The researchers also predicted 18,700 cases of liver failure and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.


Entrance to Massachusetts General Hospital on Fruit Street, Boston. Massachusetts General Hospital recently conducted a study on increased alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
(Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

“Alcoholic hepatitis was our first liver admission to the hospital since COVID caused so much isolation,” said Dr. Douglas Dieterich, professor of medicine and liver disease specialist at the Icahn School of Medicine of Mount Sinai in New York. is not part of the study, told Fox News.

The study projected the rates of liver disease and death associated with increased alcohol consumption during the pandemic.

Investigators simulated liver disease trends and drinking trajectories among all American adults using data collected from a national survey of adults regarding their drinking habits, which showed that excessive consumption of alcohol had increased by 21% during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors compared these results with a counterfactual scenario where there is no change in drinking habits and no COVID-19 occurs, according to the study.

The team found that a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than a year could lead to an additional mortality of 19-35%, depending on the study.

(Ulrich Baumgarten via Getty Images)

Lead author Dr. Jagpreet Chhatwal, associate director of MGH’s Institute for Technology Assessment and assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, said in a press release: “Our findings underscore the need for individuals and policymakers to make informed decisions to mitigate the impact of high-risk alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States”

Lead Author Jovan Julien, MS, data analyst at the MGH Institute for Technology Assessment and Ph.D. candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said in the press release that the researchers hoped the study could help kick-start needed conversations about how to respond to coping mechanisms, the many behavioral changes and choices that have short-term and long-term effects on the health of individuals, families and communities.


(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Ayer also said in a press release that the study provides a framework to quantify the long-term impact of increased alcohol consumption associated with the pandemic, but also to start conversations about potential interventions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while drinking in moderation is considered two drinks or less per day for men, and one drink or less per day for women.