The Harvard Gazette: Study holds warning on pandemic drinking

January 7, 2022

Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital scientist led a study (published in Hepatology) that estimated that a one-year increase in alcohol consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic will result in 8,000 additional deaths from alcohol-related liver disease, 18,700 cases of liver failure, and 1,000 cases of liver cancer by 2040.

Using data from a national survey of U.S. adults on their drinking habits that found that excessive drinking (such as binge drinking) increased by 21 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, investigators simulated the drinking trajectories and liver disease trends in all U.S. adults. The researchers noted that a sustained increase in alcohol consumption for more than one year could result in 19 to 35 percent additional mortality.

“Our findings highlight the need for individuals and policymakers to make informed decisions to mitigate the impact of high-risk alcohol drinking during the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.,” says senior author Jagpreet Chhatwal, associate director of MGH’s Institute for Technology Assessment and an assistant professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School.

See the Harvard Gazette article for full story.