New European research has found that those who live in colder and less sunny parts of the world are also more likely to have alcoholic cirrhosis, a disease caused by excessive drinking which results in irreversible scarring of the liver.
With a heavy intake of alcohol causing a perception of warmth, and less hours of sunlight linked to depression which in turn may lead to alcohol abuse, the international team of researchers hypothesized that colder countries would have higher rates of alcohol consumption and therefore higher rates of alcoholic cirrhosis.
The team analyzed data from 193 countries taken from WHO and World Meteorological Organization databases, looking at heavy alcohol consumption, binge drinking, average temperature, climate, latitude and hours of yearly sunshine, to look at the effect of the various factors on alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis.
The team found that as the average temperature and yearly hours of sunshine decreases, and latitude increases, the rates of alcohol-attributable cirrhosis also increases.
Commenting on the findings, which were presented on Saturday at The International Liver Congress 2017 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, study authors Neil D. Shah and Dr Ramon Bataller explained that they found that a country's climate and location has a "startling influence" on liver cirrhosis, with the results suggesting that "drinking alcohol excessively to combat the cold and dark could put people at increased risk of suffering from alcoholic cirrhosis."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Europe is the heaviest drinking region in the world in terms of the prevalence of alcohol consumption.
Alcohol-attributable liver cirrhosis makes up around half of all causes of liver cirrhosis, causing around 493,000, or 0.9 percent, of deaths globally every year.