Alcohol Use Surpasses Hepatitis C as Reason for Liver Transplants

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Alcohol Use Surpasses Hepatitis C as Reason for Liver Transplants

Proportion of transplants related to alcohol doubles in 15 years, study says.

For decades, chronic hepatitis C has been the leading reason for liver transplant in the United States. Improved hepatitis treatment and evolving attitudes toward alcohol-related liver disease may be changing that.

New research spanning from 2002 to 2016 shows that alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) has now emerged as the most common reason for transplant, rising most quickly from 2012 to 2016.

“Our study strongly suggests that shifting attitudes of transplant providers to allow earlier liver transplant for ALD are an important part of the increase,” says study author Brian Lee, MD, a gastroenterology and hepatology fellow at the University of California in San Francisco. “The rise can also be explained by declining transplants for hepatitis.”

The scientific paper, published January 22, 2019, in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, based its findings on information from more than 50,000 liver transplant recipients in the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS) database, including those with hepatitis C virus.

The proportion of those with alcohol-related liver disease who received a transplant climbed from 15.3 percent in 2002 to 18.6 percent in 2010 and then escalated to 30.6 percent in 2016. The increase over 15 years was double, although transplant rates varied in different regions of the country.

Read on: Alcohol Use Surpasses Hepatitis C as Reason for Liver Transplants

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