Background: Alcohol is a significant component of the diet with dose-dependent risks and benefits. High doses of alcohol damage the liver and early symptoms of liver disease include changes in routinely assessed liver enzymes. Less is known regarding the mechanisms responsible for the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption, including their effects on the liver. The objectives of this study were to examine alcohol's dose-dependent effects on markers of liver function (alkaline phosphatase (ALP), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT), and bilirubin), as well as to compare the different methods of assessing alcohol intake using NHANES 2001-2010 adult data (N = 24,807). Methods: Three methods were used to estimate alcohol intake from all volunteers: 24-h recall; the National Cancer Institute (NCI) method of usual intake; and a specific alcohol intake questionnaire. Results: Mean alcohol intake by 24-h recall, NCI method and questionnaire was 41.0 ± 0.8 g/d, 10.9 ± 0.2 g/d and 11.0 ± 0.2 g/d, respectively. Alcohol consumers had significantly lower levels of ALP and higher levels of AST, GGT and bilirubin compared to non-consumers (P < 0.01) and activities of ALT, AST, and GGT increased and of ALP decreased as alcohol intake increased, regardless of intake assessment method used. The most sensitive measure of alcohol consumption was GGT. Conclusions: Since alcohol had a graded linear effect on several liver enzymes, including at low and moderate doses, benefits as well as risks of alcohol intake may be related to liver function. Since the NCI method and alcohol questionnaire yielded very similar alcohol intake estimates, this study cross-validated these methods and demonstrated the robustness of the NCI method for estimating intake of irregularly consumed foods.
Agarwal, S., Fulgoni, V. L., & Lieberman, H. R. (2016). Assessing alcohol intake & its dosedependent effects on liver enzymes by 24-h recall and questionnaire using NHANES 2001-2010 data. Nutrition Journal, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0180-y