People with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are more likely to drink excessively or to have quit drinking, News Medical reports. Publishing their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers analyzed data from 20,041 participants in the 2003 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The investigators found that former drinkers as well as current excessive drinkers had higher hep C infection rates, at a respective 2.2 percent and 1.5 percent, compared with those who never drank and who currently do not drink excessively, who had prevalence rates of 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

Considering adults who drank five or more drinks per day almost every day of the week at some point during their lives, 43.8 percent of those with hep C reported a history of this behavior, compared with 13.7 percent of those without the virus, a 3.3-fold difference.

After controlling the data for age, sex, race, ethnicity, education level and having regular health care, the researchers found that excessive current drinking was associated with a 30 percent increased likelihood of having hep C, while having been a drinker was also associated with a 30 percent increased likelihood of HCV infection.

The researchers concluded, “Public health HCV strategies should implement interventions with emphasis on alcohol abuse, which negatively impacts disease progression for HCV-infected individuals.”

To read the News Medical article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.