This systematic review and a meta-analysis evaluated the relationship between alcohol use and liver disease progression among people with HCV infection. Researchers evaluated 33 longitudinal and case-control studies reporting on biological outcomes (the majority were case-control studies). They excluded studies reporting solely on liver cancer and liver transplants.
- There was a dose-dependent, exponential relationship between level of alcohol use and progression of liver disease (incidence of cirrhosis): the higher the daily alcohol intake, the greater the probability of liver cirrhosis in patients with HCV.
- Every daily drink containing 12g of alcohol increased the risk of cirrhosis by 11%.
Comments: Alcohol use plays a significant and detrimental role in liver disease progression among people with HCV. The conclusions of this systematic review rely heavily on case-control studies; results could be impacted by limitations of the included studies such as recall bias, and biases related to self-report. Nevertheless, it is important to keep raising awareness on the links between alcohol use and HCV complications.
Nicolas Bertholet, MD, MSc
Reference: Llamosas-Falcón L, Shield KD, Gelovany M, et al. Impact of alcohol on the progression of HCV-related liver disease: A systematic review and meta-analysis. J Hepatol. 2021;S0168-8278(21)00253-1.