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Incidence of cancer, liver-related death higher among carriers of inactive virus than in controls

-- Beth Gilbert

Wednesday, May 26, 2010 (Last Updated: 05/27/2010)

WEDNESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with inactive hepatitis B virus (HBV) have a substantially higher risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and liver-related death than those not infected with the virus, according to a study in the May issue of Gastroenterology.

Jin-De Chen, of the National Taiwan University Hospital in Taipei, and colleagues classified 1,932 individuals as carriers of inactive HBV who were seronegative for hepatitis B e antigen; had serum levels of HBV DNA less than 10,000 copies/mL; and did not have cirrhosis, hepatocellular carcinoma, or increased serum levels of alanine aminotransferase. The researchers also included 18,137 control participants who were seronegative for hepatitis B surface antigen and antibodies against hepatitis C virus but had similar clinical liver features.

After a mean follow-up of 13.1 years, the researchers found that the annual incidence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma was 0.06 percent and the annual incidence rate of liver-related death was 0.04 percent among inactive HBV carriers, while the incidence rate for both was 0.02 percent among controls. The multivariate-adjusted hazard ratios for carriers of inactive HBV compared to controls were 4.6 for hepatocellular carcinoma and 2.1 for liver-related death. In addition, older age and alcohol consumption habits were found to independently predict risk for carriers of inactive HBV to develop hepatocellular carcinoma.

"Newly developed hepatocellular carcinoma is the major predictor of subsequent liver-related mortality. An alcohol drinking habit is the universal risk predictor of liver disease progression in inactive HBV carriers. Further studies including repeated measurements of HBsAg serostatus and serum HBV DNA level throughout the disease progression would make the natural history of inactive HBV carriers much clearer in the future," the authors write.

The study was funded in part by Bristol-Myers Squibb.

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Specialties Radiology
Hematology & Oncology
OBGYN & Women's Health

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