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Cocktails

Hard Liquor Increases Risk of Pancreatitis

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Mon, Aug 8, 2011 at 3:31 PM

click to enlarge Liquor bottles behind the bar at 1886 in Pasadena. - GUZZLE & NOSH
  • Guzzle & Nosh
  • Liquor bottles behind the bar at 1886 in Pasadena.
Candy may be dandy but liquor is quicker, especially when it comes to increasing your risk of pancreatitis. Drinking just 4 cl. (centilitre) of hard liquor, the equivalent of 1.35 US fluid ounces (or a little more than a typical 1-oz. shot), can increase the risk of an acute attack of pancreatitis, but wine or beer does not appear to have the same effect. These are the results of a Swedish study conducted at Karolinska Institutet and recently published by the British Journal of Surgery.

The study explored the effects of different types of alcohol on acute pancreatitis attacks, which declined in both Sweden and Finland when spirits sales declined even when sales of whine and beer increased.

For 10 years, researchers followed 84,601 people aged 46 to 84 in Vastmanland and Uppsala. During that time, 513 developed acute pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas most commonly caused by gallstones or too much boozing.

The risk also increased proportionally, researchers found. Drinking 20 cl. of spirits (6.76 US fluid ounces or five standard Swedish measures) on a single occasion increased the likelihood of an attack by 52%. Drinking more than five 15 cl. glasses of wine (5 oz.) or five 33 cl. beers (11 oz.) on a single occasion did not increase the risk.

The Upshot: If you're prone to pancreatitis, cut out the boozing -- but you shouldn't need a team of Swedish researchers to tell you that.

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