"As a result, women who are already predisposed by genetics to have liver disease should limit their alcohol consumption or stay away from alcohol altogether," Dr. Howard Monsour, chief of hepatology at Houston Methodist Hospital, said.
The researcher said there is a misconception that you have to be an alcoholic to develop serious liver disease. In fact, if you have a genetic disposition, drinking more than a moderate amount could be very damaging, especially for women.
About 20 to 30 percent of the population has a genetic disposition to cirrhosis of the liver and Monsour said it is important for people to know if they have a family history of cirrhosis before making the decisions to drink large amounts of alcohol.
Monsour said that one drink a day might be too much for a woman who has a genetic pre-disposition to cirrhosis of the liver. One drink for a woman has about twice the effect as it does for the same amount consumed by a man.
Monsour said when women drink the same amount less is dispersed and the concentration is higher. They also have a lower activity of a metabolizing enzyme in the stomach called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH).
ADH helps convert alcohol to acetaldehyde, which is eventually is metabolized to carbon dioxide and water. This causes a larger amount of the alcohol to reach the blood and eventually in susceptible persons can lead to cirrhosis of the liver, a disease that normally has no visible signs until liver damage is too extensive.