Coinfection with hepatitis B and C virus (HBV/HCV) combined with risky alcohol consumption enhances liver damage mechanisms to a greater extent in women than in men, according to a recent study in PLoS One.

Hepatitis infection and risky drinking are major risk factors for liver disease, and coinfection with both HBV and HCV is more likely to progress to cirrhosis than single infections. Pooled data from 2 national surveys in Italy allowed the estimation of interactions among alcohol intake, HBV infection, and HCV infection on cirrhosis risk by gender.

The additive effects of HBV, HCV, and risky alcohol use on the risk for cirrhosis may be explained by both virus and alcohol stimulation of hepatic-oxidative stress or by effects of alcohol on the immune system. The researchers concluded that, “females are at higher risk for liver cirrhosis than males and deserve a more careful surveillance.”

Stroffolini T, Sagnelli E, Andriulli A, et al; EPACRON study group. Sex difference in the interaction of alcohol intake, hepatitis B virus, and hepatitis C virus on the risk of cirrhosisPLoS One. 2017;12:e0185710.

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