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Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 1993;1A:85-90.

Hepatitis C virus infection in alcoholic liver cirrhosis in Japan: its contribution to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Second Department of Internal Medicine, Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan.


To determine risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Japan, we studied 575 patients with liver cirrhosis (LC) who presented to our out-patient clinics in a month; 217 patients with habitual drinking with or without viral infections (AL-LC), 235 with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, 40 with hepatitis B virus (HB) infection, and 82 with liver diseases from other aetiologies such as primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). HCC was found in 28% of AL-LC, 27% of HCV-LC, and 18% of HB-LC. HCV antibody examined by the second-generation HCV antibody assay (HCV II) was positive in 49% of AL-LC without HCC, and 84% of AL-LC with HCC. HCV was significantly associated with the development of HCC with an odds ratio of 1.90 by multivariate analysis, whereas alcohol alone did not become a risk factor, with an odds ratio of 0.65. When both variables were combined (HCV+AL), however, the odds ratio was increased twice to 3.65. One-hundred and thirteen patients who had a history of blood transfusion more than 10 years ago were selected to assess the interaction between alcohol and HCV in hepatocarcinogenesis. A year-adjusted disease occurrence rate calculated by the Kaplan-Meyer method showed that HCV+AL had a significantly higher disease occurrence rate than HCV alone. These results suggest that although alcohol alone may not become a risk factor for HCC, it may potentiate the development of HCC caused by HCV. HCV+AL is considered to be the highest risk group; strict abstinence is necessary for these patients.

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