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Liver & Pancreas Disorders Message Board

Liver & Pancreas Disorders Board Index

Hi, I'm new to HealthBoards but its good to read the experiences of others!

I have always been a heavy drinker - 45 years (now 66 years old) - but have not had any really serious issues. However, a recent ultrasound showed "Diffuse fatty infiltration of the Liver".
My GTT has been high for years (around 130) but my AST/ALT always top end of normal. However, my last blood tests showed a high serum transferrin percentage of 65% although other iron studies were normal.
My GP merely suggested cutting back on my drinking and to get re-tested in 3 months - March. Since late November have been sticking to 4 or 5 light beers a day (3% ABV) - this is about a 75% decrease in alcohol consumption - BUT is it enough!?! Guess next blood tests will determine.
My main problem is quantifying my "Fatty Liver". I enjoy drinking but can never be moderate (alcoholic I guess) - HOWEVER I can stick to a "Alcohol Diet" of up to 5 drinks a day - that way I never go beyond the point of no return - which used to be 3 or 4 times a week!

Guess most replies will merely say STOP DRINKING! But I am happy on my "Alcohol Diet". I live on the Gold Coast in Australia so a cold beer now and again is important to me! Also I dont drink soft drinks other than soda water.
Quite a lot - 2 to 3 litres a day - make my own with sodastream!

Any comments would be helpfull. Trevor
Hi Trevor, & sorry you're having this health scare going on.

I used to drink heavy when I was young and older drinkers would frequently tell me "enjoy it while you can because you can't drink like that when you get older". I never really knew what they were talking about as they were still drinking themselves, but I do now!

Got in trouble with an inflamed fatty liver myself in my mid 50s. Cleaned up my act and figured I might drink moderately again, but found every time I tried this I wound up back to my old tricks (drinking too much) with astonishing swiftness.

In researching how I got into trouble after many years (decades!) of drinking without any health problems, I came across the role of iron in alcoholic liver disease. Males tend to accumulate excess iron as they age and alcohol accelerates this process as it increases iron absorption from food. The liver is the primary storage site for excess iron and this iron increases inflammation that occurs during alcohol metabolism. An internet search for: Alcoholic Liver Disease with IRON included in the search should produce a number of results that explain this well.

Your high transferrin number is a clue this may be what is causing your problems. Don't know if your "other iron studies" included ferritin, but this is the best measure of stored iron. The upper limits for the "normal" range for ferritin are set remarkably high by most labs at 300 or so for men, but "optimal" levels for ferritin are actually much lower; ideally well under 100. If you haven't had a ferritin test, I would ask for this and get a copy of the result yourself. I may well be in the normal range, but ferritin into triple digits would indicate iron stores are elevated.

Unfortunately, accumulated iron is difficult to remove, and blood donation or "therapeutic phlebotomy" is the only way to lower accumulated iron swiftly. There are a couple of supplements: IP6 (Inositol Hexaphosphate) and Curcumin that may slowly chelate iron and you may ask your doc if it would be safe for you to try these.

Lower iron (when it is elevated) and alcohol metabolism from moderate drinking will not inflame your liver like what occurs when iron is elevated. Follow-up labs with your doc and his continued advice should always by your primary guide to what (if any) level of alcohol might be safe.

Elevated iron has also been implicated in fatty liver disease and NASH (non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis) in particular, and iron reduction through phlebotomy or blood donation has been shown to help resolve this. Another interesting aspect to the iron/liver issue.

Stay Healthy!
is it enough? It might be, it might not be. Everyones body is SO variable. I would continue on your cutting down program and not go back to your old ways. Its not my place to tell you to stop completely - although Im sure your doctor would prefer that.
Generally american beers are higher in alcohol than Australian, I did the calculation, 500ml of beer in your %3 variety is equal to 1.18 units of alcohol. Its generally said men shoulnt have more than 4 units a day with 2 days off.... Some people are sensitive to alcohol and maxing out their weekly limit affects them, and some peoples livers can handle a LOT more.

With daily drinking you're more at risk for fatty liver. I know my GI in the USA says almost every american ultrasound he sees points to fatty liver. I guess its true we're gluttons ;)

He did however advise in fatty liver situations taking vitamin E and to not get obese. Any healthy changes that can made beyond that can be helpful (working out, eating cleaner diet, etc).

I dont know about iron and the liver, so I'm glad Billin replied above with lots of info.

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