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Spirit link to pancrease disease

Monday August 8th, 2011

People who drink spirits rather than wine or beer face an increased risk of disease of the pancreas, according to Swedish researchers.

A study of more than 80,000 people has found that occasional binges on wine and beer do not seem to cause acute pancreatitis. But equivalent amounts of spirits, such as vodka, do.

Even drinking the occasional single measure of spirits is enough to increase the risk of disease, according to a report in the British Journal of Surgery.

The study found that a single heavy drinking session involving five measures of spirits increased the risk of disease by half.

The researchers say the risk increased again by half for each drinking session involving spirits. But occasional bingeing on wine and beer had no effect.

Heavy drinking is known to be a major cause of acute pancreatitis - but the researchers from the Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, say the findings show that spirits, such as vodka - widely consumed in Sweden - are much more dangerous than equivalent amounts of other drinks.

Researcher Dr Omid Sadr-Azodi said: "Research has shown that alcohol on its own is not sufficient to cause acute pancreatitis.

"Our study suggests that there are constituents in spirits that are not present in wine and beer and that they can cause acute pancreatitis, either on their own or in combination with alcohol."

He added: "We also discovered that the average monthly consumption of alcohol did not increase the risk. It is important to point out that most of the people included in our study drank alcohol within acceptable ranges, consuming one to two glasses a day."

The research involved more than 84,000 people aged between 46 and 84 over periods of about ten years. Some 513 developed acute pancreatitis.

Effect of type of alcoholic beverage in causing acute pancreatitis. Sadr-Azodi et al. BJS. British Journal of Surgery August 2011. DOI: 10.1002/bjs.7632

Tags: Drug and Alcohol Abuse | Europe | Internal Medicine

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