Patterns of chronic liver disease differ by ethnicity

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Patterns of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis and their underlying causes differ by ethnicity as evident by from the results from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) study published July 17, 2016 in Hepatology.

The study identified more than 5000 cases of chronic liver disease, 3,575 without cirrhosis and 2,208 with cirrhosis.

· The prevalence of chronic liver disease ranged from 3.9% in African Americans and Native Hawaiians to 4.1% in whites, 6.7% in Latinos and 6.9% in Japanese.
· Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) was the most common cause of chronic liver disease in the entire multiethnic cohort (52%), followed by alcoholic liver disease (21%).
· NAFLD was the most common cause of cirrhosis in the entire cohort.
· By ethnicity, NAFLD was also the most common cause of cirrhosis in Japanese Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Latinos, accounting for 32% of cases.
· Alcoholic liver disease was the most common cause of cirrhosis in whites (38.2%), while hepatitis C virus was the most common cause in African Americans (29.8%).
According to Dr. Veronica Wendy Setiawan, lead author of the study, these findings highlight the need to implement improved screening, diagnostic and management approaches to face this growing epidemic.

The MEC is a prospective cohort of more than 215,000 men and women, aged 45-75 years, enrolled between 1993 and 1996.