Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alcoholism drastically reduces the survival rate for women with hepatitis C

Women with hepatitis C lose survival advantage over men if they drink heavily. Hepatitis C is a chronic infection of the liver which is passed on through contaminated blood and often linked with drug use. It sometimes leads to severe liver damage and liver cancer. Previous research has suggested that hepatitis C progresses more slowly among women, giving them a survival advantage. Drinking, to the point of alcoholism, on the other hand, worsens the outcome.

Researchers have put together various trends to look at the outcome for women with both hepatitis C and alcoholism. They analyzed 132,468 deaths related to hepatitis C or alcoholism. Women with hepatitis C who were not heavy drinkers died at an average age of 61. Those women with both hepatitis C and alcoholism died at an average age of 49. For men, the corresponding average ages at death were 55 and 50 years. Therefore, alcoholism wipes out the gender advantage women have over men when it comes to survival from hepatitis C. The researchers admit the study has one limitation – alcoholism often precludes access to treatment for hepatitis C because those affected are less likely to benefit. This may be a contributing factor to the lower survival rates seen when hepatitis C and alcoholism are combined.


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