Background: There have been no human prospective randomized studies of the amount of alcohol that can induce hepatic steatosis.
Methods: Thirty-two healthy women and twelve healthy men (34 ± 9 years of age) were randomized to consume 150 ml of red wine/day for women (16 g ethanol/day) or double that amount for men (33 g ethanol/day), or to alcohol abstention for 90 days. Participants underwent proton-nuclear magnetic-resonance spectroscopy for measurement of hepatic triglyceride content (HTGC). Blood samples for assessment of cardiovascular risk were drawn before and after the intervention.
Results: After exclusion of three subjects with steatosis at baseline a trend towards increased HTGC was apparent for red wine (before median: 1.1%, range 0.2-3.9%, after median: 1.1%, range 0.5-5.2 %, P = 0.059) a difference that was statistically significant compared with abstainers (p = 0.02). However, no subject developed hepatic steatosis. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol was lowered by red wine (-0.3 mmol/l, SE -0.1, 95% CI -0.6 to -0.04).
Conclusions: Moderate consumption of red wine during three months increased HTGC in subjects without steatosis at baseline. However, since not a single participant developed steatosis we suggest that the threshold of alcohol consumption to define nonalcoholic fatty liver disease should not be lower than the amount in our study.
2011. Vol. 43, no 7, 545-554 p.