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Abstract

The role of alcohol intake in the occurrence of severe liver disease in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers is still debated. A cross-sectional study has been conducted in 233 chronic hepatitis C virus carriers. Weekly self-reported alcohol consumption (SRAC) was evaluated, serum HCV RNA levels were measured by a branched DNA technique (Quantiplex 2.0) and HCV genotypes were determined. A liver biopsy was performed simultaneously and liver lesions were graded with the Knodell histological activity index. Data were examined by uni- and multivariate analyses. Alcohol consumption was relatively low (< 140 g/per week in 193/233 patients [80%]). We found a highly significant correlation between SRAC and serum HCV RNA levels (r = .26, P = .001). Fibrosis was significantly correlated with age and alcohol consumption. These results suggest that in HCV carriers, alcohol consumption, even with low alcohol intake, increases viremia and hepatic fibrosis. Chronic HCV carriers should be advised to avoid regular alcohol intake.