The researchers investigated the role of cigarette smoking in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and its affect on alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.
They reported their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
A total of 6095 inhabitants, 35 years or older, in a community with hyperendemic hepatitis B and C virus infections, were included in the study.
Levels of serum ALT, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and anti-HCV antibody were all assayed.
Multivariate logistic regression was performed to determine the factors for elevated ALT levels (≥ 40 U/L) among people with different hepatitis infection statuses.
Prevalence of elevated ALT levels in individuals who were seronegative for both infections was 4%.
For those seropositive for HBsAg or anti-HCV, the prevalence was 11% and 31%, respectively.
The team found that patients with elevated ALT levels were more likely to be seropositive for anti-HCV, seropositive for HbsAg, male, to drink alcohol, to smoke, and to have undergone blood transfusion.
| Alcohol consumption and smoking increase ALT levels in HCV infected patients.
| Archives of Internal Medicine |
An association was found between elevated ALT levels and the consumption of cigarettes and alcohol among anti-HCV-seropositive subjects.
In multivariate logistic analyses, alcohol consumption (odds ratio [OR], 2.2) and smoking (OR, 1.8) were found to be significantly associated with elevated ALT levels among anti-HCV-seropositive subjects.
However, no such association was found among HBsAg-seropositive subjects.
The odds of elevated ALT levels were 7-times higher for the anti-HCV-seropositive patients who smoked 1 or more packs of cigarettes per day and frequently drank alcohol than for those who did not.
Dr Chong-Shan Wang, of the A-Lein Community Health Center, Kaohsiung County, said on behalf of fellow authors, "Smoking and alcohol consumption are independently associated with elevated ALT levels among anti-HCV-seropositive individuals, but not among HBsAg-seropositive individuals."
"Patients who are seropositive for anti-HCV are strongly advised not to smoke and drink alcohol, to reduce the possible risk for aggravating liver dysfunction," it was concluded.