Article: Alcohol intake increases the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C virus-related compensated cirrhosis: a prospective study—A Vandenbulcke et al.
Source: J Hepatol. 2016 May 12. pii: S0168-8278(16)30184-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2016.04.031. [Epub ahead of print]
Study Aims and Results
The current study looked at the effect of alcohol consumption and hepatitis C (HCV) treatment cure on the risk of the development of liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)). The study authors collected information on the amount of alcohol consumed by 192 HCV patients with HCV-related compensated cirrhosis.
Seventy-four patients consumed an average of 15 grams of alcohol a day—the equivalent of a little more than one 12-ounce beer a day. Sixty-eight patients were cured of HCV. The patients in the study were followed for an average of 58 months. Thirty-three patients developed liver cancer. Fifty-three patients experienced at least one decompensation event (varices, asities, etc.,).
The 5-year cumulative incidence rate of liver cancer was 10.6% in alcohol abstainers vs. 23.8% in alcohol consumers. In persons who were treated and cured of HCV, the liver cancer was 2.0% compared to 21.7% in the patients not cured of HCV.
Those who did not drink alcohol and were cured of HCV had the lowest incidence of liver cancer –0% followed by those who did drink alcohol but were cured of HCV (6.2%).
Patients who did not drink alcohol and who did not achieve a cure of HCV had a cancer rate of 15.9% compared to those who had consumed alcohol and not cured of HCV had a cancer incidence of 29.2%.
Importantly, it was noted that alcohol intake did not influence the risk of decompensation or death.
This was a small study, but it is important because it does point to the fact that alcohol combined with HCV-related cirrhosis can contribute to the development of liver cancer. The people who drank alcohol in the study consumed small amounts of alcohol. This study makes it clear that people with cirrhosis should abstain from alcohol.
There is a need for more studies on the role of alcohol and liver cancer.
Alan Franciscus is the Executive Director of the Hepatitis C Support Project and the Editor-in-Chief of the HCV Advocate Website.Share This Page