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April 3, 1967


JAMA. 1967;200(1):A21-A38. doi:10.1001/jama.1967.03120140013003

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Cellular Damage Of Alcoholism  Which is primarily responsible for the cellular damage of alcoholism, a deficient diet or the alcohol itself?Obviously, this long-standing riddle has more than chicken-or-egg significance. Settlement of the question could profoundly affect both treatment of alcoholics and the drinking habits of the general public.The full spectrum of this medical debate was presented during two recent pathology meetings in Washington, DC.

  • New York investigators presented biopsy studies indicating that "ethanol (alcohol) can injure the human liver independent of nutritional factors."

  • A Toronto team concluded that "the injurious effect of alcohol is mediated through dietary alterations."

  • Myocardial damage similar to that seen in humans was produced in "alcoholic" rats on balanced diets, a Chicago group reported.

Experimental evidence is often contradicted by clinical experience, species differences, and disagreement about what constitutes an alcohol-induced lesion. "This is a friendly disagreement," one speaker commented to JAMAMedical