• Ethnic Groups;
  • Women;
  • Health Status Disparities;
  • Men;
  • Risk Factors

Background:  Hispanics have much higher cirrhosis mortality rates than non-Hispanic Blacks and Whites. Although heavy alcohol use and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are two major risk factors for cirrhosis, no studies have systematically assessed the contribution of alcohol- and HCV-related cirrhosis deaths to the total cirrhosis mortality for Hispanics as a whole and its variations across Hispanic subgroups. To fill this gap, this study presents the latest data on total cirrhosis mortality as well as its component alcohol- and HCV-related cirrhosis mortality for all Hispanics and for Hispanic subgroups.

Methods:  The multiple-cause approach was used to analyze data from the U.S. Multiple Cause of Death Data Files for 28,432 Hispanics and 168,856 non-Hispanic Whites (as a comparison group) who died from cirrhosis as the underlying or a contributing cause during 2000–2004. Four major Hispanic subgroups were defined by national origin or ancestry, including Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and Other Hispanics. The cirrhosis deaths were divided into four distinctive cause-of-death categories: alcohol-related, HCV-related, both alcohol- and HCV-related, and neither alcohol- nor HCV-related. Age-adjusted total cirrhosis death rates and percentage shares of the cause-specific categories were compared across Hispanic subgroups and non-Hispanic Whites.

Results:  Compared with non-Hispanic Whites, all Hispanic subgroups except Cubans had much higher cirrhosis mortality. The age-adjusted total cirrhosis death rates were twice as high for Puerto Ricans and Mexicans as for non-Hispanic Whites. Alcohol-related and HCV-related cirrhosis death rates also were higher for most Hispanic subgroups than for non-Hispanic Whites.

Conclusions:  Heavy alcohol use and hepatitis C viral infection are two important factors contributing to the high cirrhosis mortality among Hispanics. However, their relative contributions to total cirrhosis mortality varied by gender and Hispanic subgroup. This information is useful for targeted prevention and intervention efforts to address the excessive cirrhosis mortality in the Hispanic population.