Light Drinking OK for Some Hepatitis C Patients

Cardiovascular benefits can outweigh minimal effect of liver disease progression

WEDNESDAY, March 17, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- While no amount of alcohol can be considered completely safe for people with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV), the cardiovascular benefits of light drinking may outweigh the minimal effect it would have on progression of liver disease in HCV patients at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

That's what researchers report in the March issue of Hepatology.

Light drinking has been linked to cardiovascular health benefits.

Led by Alexander Monto of the University of California at San Francisco, researchers studied the effects of different levels of alcohol intake on 800 people with chronic HCV.

The researchers gathered information about the patients' alcohol consumption and disease-related data, such as estimated age when they acquired HCV and HCV genotype and viral load. Researchers also did a liver biopsy on each patient to measure their fibrosis levels.

"We did not find a statistically significant association between alcohol and mean fibrosis on liver biopsy until a consumption level of 50 g/day (five drinks), and this only in univariate analysis," the authors write.

"In the cohort overall, however, both mean fibrosis and the odds ratio for fibrosis increased step-wise even among patients with less than 50 g/day of alcohol consumption," the authors write.

More information

The U.S. National Center for Infectious Diseases has more about hepatitis C.

SOURCE: John Wiley & Sons Inc., news release, March 11, 2004
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