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Alcohol. 2012 Sep;46(6):537-41. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2012.03.006. Epub 2012 May 7.

Anti-hepatitis B core positivity as a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma in alcoholic cirrhosis: a case-control study.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Gachon University Gil Medical Center, Guwol-dong, Incheon 405-760, South Korea.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is occasionally developed in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Old age, male gender, lifetime quantity of alcohol, and presence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are risk factors for HCC in alcoholic cirrhosis. In this study, we investigated whether anti-hepatitis B core (HBc) positivity or occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a risk factor for HCC in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis. Between January 2006 and August 2008, a total of 72 cirrhotic male patients with an initial diagnosis of HCC, hospitalized in three major hospitals in the Incheon area, were enrolled as cases. Another 72 cirrhotic male patients without HCC, who matched the cases by age (±3 years), were enrolled as controls. All cases and controls were negative for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-HCV, but had history of chronic alcohol intake over 80 g per day. The clinical characteristics including presence of anti-HBc or serum HBV DNA (identified by nested polymerase chain reaction) were investigated. The mean age of both the cases and controls was 62 ± 10 years. The basal laboratory data, Child-Pugh scores, total lifetime alcohol intake (1459 ± 1364 versus 1641 ± 1045 kg), and detection rates of serum HBV DNA [31.7% (20/63) versus 29.9% (20/67)] of the cases and controls were not significantly different. However, the anti-HBc positivity rate was higher among the cases [86.1% (62/72)] than in the controls [66.7% (48/72); p=0.005] and was the only significant risk factor for HCC (odds ratio; 3.1, 95% confidence interval; 1.354-7.098, p=0.007). Anti-HBc positivity was identified as a risk factor for the development of HCC in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

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