A new study has found that hepatitis C patients are more likely to consume alcohol in excess, which is particularly hazardous as it could accelerate liver damage associated with the virus.
The study found that hepatitis C patients were three times more likely to consume more than five alcoholic beverages daily, compared to individuals without hepatitis C. Lead investigator Amber Taylor said, “Alcohol promotes faster development of fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis [scarring of the liver] in people living with hepatitis C, making drinking a dangerous and often deadly activity. In 2010, alcohol-related liver disease ranked third as a cause of death among people with hepatitis C.”
The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on more than 20,000 people. They specifically looked at hepatitis C infection rates in those who never drank, former drinkers, current non-heavy drinkers, and current heavy drinkers. The researchers found that hepatitis C patients were more likely to be former drinkers or current heavy drinkers.
Taylor added, “Half of all people living with hepatitis C are not aware of their infection nor the serious medical risks they face when consuming alcohol. This highlights the need for increased diagnosis, as well as comprehensive and effective interventions to link hepatitis C-infected individuals to curative treatments now available and provide education and support needed to reduce alcohol use.”
The researchers believe their findings could help develop more effective strategies and interventions for patients.
Also, read Bel Marra Health’s article on High blood pressure and alcohol – a dangerous combination.