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High-normal GGT suggests alcohol problem: possible detection tool. (gamma-glutamyl-transferase).

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- A serum gamma-glutamyl-transferase level in the high-normal range may indicate hazardous alcohol use, Dr. Isabelle Chossis reported at the annual meeting of the Society of General Internal Medicine.

Her study opens up a potential new role for gamma-glutamyl-transferase (GGT) in the detection of problem drinking.

Other researchers had previously proposed that a serum GGT level above the upper limit of normal--that is, greater than 62 U/L--might be useful as a screening tool for detection of diagnosable alcohol disorders, but the lab test proved too unreliable for this purpose.

She and her colleagues had previously noted anecdotally that a high-normal GGT seemed to be associated with hazardous use of alcohol. They decided to put their hypothesis to the test in a study involving 578 19-year-old men attending a mandatory 1-day Swiss Army recruitment session. They obtained serum GGT levels and drinking histories on all participants, explained Dr. Chossis of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland).

Overall, 481 of the young men had GGTs of 9-25 U/L, a range classified as low-normal to normal; 97 men were categorized as having a high-normal GGT of 26-62 U/L. The GGT is an extremely sensitive marker for hepatocellular damage. It typically starts to rise before elevations of other liver enzymes are present. When physicians see a high-normal GGT on a patient's laboratory report, it's appropriate to consider further clinical investigation aimed at detecting hazardous drinking, she said.
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Title Annotation:Addiction Psychiatry
Author:Jancin, Bruce
Publication:Clinical Psychiatry News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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