Excessive drinking may worsen COVID-19 symptoms, study finds

Doctors say excessive drinking is one of the worst ways to deal with stress during the pandemic.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A new medical study has revealed excessive drinking can increase the severity of COVID-19.

UCSF Fresno was one of 21 medical centers, including Stanford and Georgetown, involved in the study.

It showed patients with chronic liver disease were at significant risk of becoming severely ill if they contract the coronavirus.

Doctors say excessive drinking is one of the worst ways to deal with stress during the pandemic.

A sudden increase in alcohol use can lead to liver inflammation.

"We've seen a huge uptick of patients being admitted with acute alcoholic hepatitis in CRMC," said Dr. Marina Roytman of UCSF.

Roytman said 61% of the 867 patients with chronic liver disease involved in the COVID-19 project became severely ill.

"14% of the patients in the study died. This is higher than the 1-3% mortality that we anticipated," Roytman said. "These are very startling findings, especially very, very relevant to our population."

The patients suffered from everything from fatty liver disease to liver cancer.

But patients with alcohol-related liver disease were 2.4 times more likely to become very ill from COVID.

Half the patients in the study said they drank every day.

Dr. Roytman said liver-related complications of alcohol use have skyrocketed in the past six months.

She hopes the study raises awareness among people, especially those with liver issues so they can better protect themselves from COVID.

The study was the largest to be conducted on COVID patients with chronic liver disease.

The findings have now been published in the medical journal "Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology."
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