End-stage liver disease accounts for 1 in 40 deaths worldwide.
Chronic infections with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus are well-recognized risk factors for cirrhosis and liver cancer.
However, estimates of their contributions to worldwide disease burden have been lacking.
Dr Joseph Perz and colleagues from Switzerland assessed the prevalence of serologic markers of Hepatitis B and C with cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma.
The research team obtained data from representative samples of published reports.
Attributable fractions of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma due to these infections were estimated for 11 World Health Organization-based regions.
Globally, 57% of cirrhosis was attributable to either Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
|929,000 deaths occurred in 2002 due to Hep B and C infections
|Journal of Hepatology|
The researchers found that 78% of hepatocellular carcinoma was attributable to Hepatitis infections.
Of this percentage, hepatocellular carcinoma was caused by Hep B in 53%, and Hep C in 25%.
Regionally, these infections usually accounted for more than 50% of hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis cases.
Applied to 2002 worldwide mortality estimates, the team noted that these fractions represent 929,000 deaths due to chronic Hepatitis B and C infections.
The researchers observed that this estimate included 446,000 cirrhosis deaths, and 483,000 liver cancer deaths.
Dr Perz's team concludes, “Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C infections account for the majority of cirrhosis and primary liver cancer throughout most of the world.”
“This highlights the need for programs to prevent new infections and provide medical management and treatment for those already infected.”