New research suggests that the prevalence of cirrhosis among the U.S. population is actually 58 percent higher than the previously thought, Medical News Today reports. Publishing their findings in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, researchers culled data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to estimate the prevalence of liver cirrhosis.

The investigators estimated that 0.27 percent of Americans have cirrhosis, which translates to 633,000 adults. The previous estimate was just 400,000 cases. Roughly 69 percent of Americans with cirrhosis are unaware of their condition.

Cirrhosis is more prevalent among African Americans and Mexican Americans, people living in poverty, and those without a high school diploma. Diabetes, alcohol abuse, hepatitis C and hepatitis B virus (HCV and HBV), being male, and being older are all independently linked to having cirrhosis. Cumulatively, 53.5 percent of cirrhosis cases have viral hepatitis (mostly hep C), diabetes and alcohol abuse as the primary contributing factors.

People with cirrhosis have a two-year mortality rate of 26.4 percent, compared with 8.4 percent among matched controls without the disease.

About one in four people with cirrhosis reported drinking alcohol excessively during the year before they were surveyed. Almost half reported being HCV positive.

To read the Medical News Today story, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.