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Hepatology. 2009 Jul;50(1):175-84. doi: 10.1002/hep.22941.

Association between dietary nutrient composition and the incidence of cirrhosis or liver cancer in the United States population.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA 98108, USA.; fax:


Little is known about the impact of dietary factors on the progression of liver disease. Our aim was to determine whether dietary intake was associated with the risk of cirrhosis-related or liver cancer-related death or hospitalization in the U.S. population. Participants included 9221 persons aged 25-74 years without evidence of cirrhosis at entry into the study or during the first 5 years of follow-up, who were subsequently followed for a mean of 13.3 years as part of the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Dietary intake was ascertained at baseline using a 24-hour dietary recall questionnaire. During follow-up, 123 of 9221 participants had a diagnosis of cirrhosis (n = 118) or liver cancer (n = 5) in hospitalization records or death certificates, including 36 who were diagnosed only on the basis of death certificates. Participants who reported a diet high in protein were at a higher risk of hospitalization or death due to cirrhosis or liver cancer (P = 0.001), whereas those who reported a diet high in carbohydrates were at a lower risk (P = 0.003), after adjusting for potential confounders (daily consumption of protein, carbohydrate, fat, tea or coffee, and alcohol, gender, race, age, educational attainment, U.S. geographical region, diabetes, body mass index, and subscapular-to-triceps skinfold ratio). Although total fat consumption was not significantly associated with the risk of cirrhosis or liver cancer, cholesterol consumption was associated with higher risk (P = 0.007), whereas serum cholesterol level was not associated with risk of cirrhosis or liver cancer.


Diet may be an important and potentially modifiable determinant of liver disease.

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