San Francisco, Sep 13 (IANS): Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol may increase the amount of fat deposits in the body, particularly around the organs such as the heart, liver and intestines and raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, finds a study.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, also showed that people who consume heavy amounts of alcohol are associated with significantly higher pericardial fat (fat around the heart) compared to those who never had alcohol.
“Pericardial fat, or fat around the heart, is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, so we wanted to better understand how alcohol intake might contribute to that risk,” said lead author Richard Kazibwe, Assistant Professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest University’s School of Medicine.
The team included more than 6,500 people of European, African, Hispanic and Asian descent, between the ages of 45 and 84 to study the their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Computerised tomography (CT) scans were performed on the participants analyse the amount of fat that can build up in certain locations such as around the heart (pericardial fat) and in the liver (hepatic fat) on the basis of participants who, were divided into different into different categories like light drinkers (less than one alcoholic drink per day), moderate drinkers (one to two alcoholic drinks per day), binge drinkers (five or more alcoholic drinks in a single day).
“Body fat distribution can explain the differences in cardiovascular risk beyond the traditional measure of obesity such as body mass index. For instance, we know that two individuals with similar body mass index can have different cardiovascular risks,” Kazibwe said.
Even among people who reported light to moderate intake of alcohol, fat deposits and heart disease risk were higher, according to the study that appears online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
“These findings are significant because both excessive alcohol intake and excess ectopic fat accumulation are known risk factors for cardiovascular disease. It is also important to emphasise that given the well-documented health concerns caused by excessive alcohol consumption, it is important that people are aware of these potential risks,” Kazibwe said.