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The affects of Alcohol and Cigarettes on HCV and the liver


There is no question that alcohol is bad in HCV. Studies have shown that patients that drink 3 drinks per day have a higher incidence of cirrhosis. Our own center has shown that patients with HCV and drink have a worse activity index on the liver biopsy.

Alcohol is thought to magnify the progression of hepatitis C and vice versa. No one knows if there is a safe amount of alcohol to consume if you have hepatitis C. Certainly heavy intake (more than 3 drinks a day) should be avoided. The safest course of action is not to drink alcohol at all if you are known to have hepatitis C. Whether one or two drinks a day increases the rate of progression of liver disease is not currently known.

An important cofactor of disease severity appears to be alcohol and alcohol should be avoided in those with chronic HCV infection." - "Natural History and Clinical Aspects of HCV Infection." H.J. Alter. Department of Transfusion Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland. Cancer Biotechnology Weekly, 01-29-1996, pp 20.

A Japanese research team reports that heavy drinking reduces the efficacy of interferon (IFN) therapy in habitual drinkers with chronic hepatitis C and that this effect can be reversed by abstinence.

Dr. Kunihiko Ohnishi and colleagues from the Saitama Medical School in Saitama, Japan, evaluated the effect of alcohol consumption in 95 patients who had a confirmed diagnosis of chronic hepatitis C and were receiving treatment with IFN.

Dr. Ohnishi reports that the rate of response to interferon therapy was 36% in infrequent drinkers, 33% in moderate drinkers, 26% in heavy drinkers who had stopped drinking and 6% in heavy drinkers who continued to drink. Dr. Ohnishi and coinvestigators note that these results demonstrate "...for the first time, that the adverse effect of habitual heavy drinking on the efficacy of IFN therapy might be reversed, at least in part, by abstinence for more than 6 months before the start of IFN therapy." - Am J Gastroenterol 1996;91:1374-1379.

Alcohol Alcohol Suppl 1B: 85-90 (1993) Effects of alcohol on the replication of hepatitis C virus. M. Sawada, A. Takada, S. Takase & N. Takada

These results suggest that alcohol misuse may enhance the replication of HCV.

Alcoholism appears to be a predisposing condition for hepatitis C virus infection, but not hepatitis B. ("Alcoholism is Associated with HCV, but not HBV in an Urban Population," The American Journal of Gastroenterology, March 1996;91(3):498-505) The study adds to the accumulating evidence suggesting that hepatitis C virus is related to alcohol consumption.

Rosman et al. concluded that the increased seroprevalence of hepatitis C in actively drinking alcoholic patients without known risk factors suggest that alcoholism, in some way, is a predisposing factor for HCV infection.

We conclude that infection by both HCV and HBV may play a role in the development of HCC, and that alcohol consumption may promote carcinogenesis. Hepatogastroenterology 42: 151-154 (1995) "Relation between markers for viral hepatitis and clinical features of Japanese patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: possible role of alcohol in promoting carcinogenesis." Y. Matsuda, Y. Amuro, K. Higashino, T. Hada, T. Yamamoto, M. Fujikura, K. Yamaguchi, S. Shimomura, H. Iijima, T. Nakano & ...

Click on the links below for more information:

Study Confirms Importance of Alcohol Abstention in Patients Infected with Hepatitis C Virus

Alcohol compounds liver damage in hepatitis C

Effect of alcohol on hepatic activity & viral titre in HCV

Cigarette smoke and the liver

Hepatitis, Alcohol, Cigarettes, and HCC

The alcoholic patient with hepatitis C virus infection

Alcohol Consumption Negatively Impacts the Outcome of Hepatitis C Infection

Additional Evidence that Alcohol Consumption Negatively Impacts the Outcome of Hepatitis C Infection

High malignancy of hepatocellular carcinoma in alcoholic patients with HCV

Synergism Exists Between HCV and Alcoholism

Interferon therapy for Chronic Hepatitis-C in habitual drinkers

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