Hepatitis C is a liver disease that effects an estimated 3.2 million people in the United States. Oftentimes this disease is contracted by the sharing of needles and can sometimes be transmitted sexually. Early contraction of the disease often goes undetected because of the lack of symptoms. However, those living with Hepatitis C often experience nausea or vomiting, pain the stomach, joint or muscle pain and yellowing of the skin and eyes. These symptoms are due to the destruction of liver.

Scientist have recently conducted a study into the effects of alcohol on patients with Hepatitis C. It has been known for quite some time that alcohol has a direct negative effect on the liver, with or without Hepatitis C. Long time drinkers often suffer from cirrhosis and liver cancer because of the damaging effects of alcohol on the liver. The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, shows that consuming alcohol is likely to increase the chances of illness or death from Hepatitis C.

“Alcohol promotes faster development of fibrosis and progression to cirrhosis in people living with hepatitis C, making drinking a dangerous and often deadly activity. In 2010, alcohol-related liver disease ranked third as a cause of death among people with hepatitis C,” explained Amber L. Taylor, MPH, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Hepatitis and lead investigator of the study.

Alcohol consumption among Hepatitis C patients is a valid concern for the medical profession. The study showed that adults who were positive for the disease were three times more likely to consume five or more drinks per day, compared with adults who did not have the disease.

This study is important because so often, Hepatitis C is contracted by people who abuse drugs intravenously. The lifestyle associated with drug users often involves drinking as well. Because some people living with Hepatitis C are not even aware they have the disease, they can be placing themselves in even greater risk by continuing to also consume alcohol. Taylor cautions that over half of the people in the United States who have Hepatitis C were unaware of their disease.

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