Background/aims: Cirrhosis mortality has registered large changes over the last few decades.
Methods: Age-standardized (world standard) cirrhosis mortality rates per 100,000 were computed for 41 countries worldwide over the period 1980-2002 using data from the WHO mortality database.
Results: In the early 1980s, the highest rates were in Mexico, Chile (around 55/100,000 men and over 14/100,000 women), France, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Hungary and Romania (around 30-35/100,000 men and 10-15/100,000 women). Mortality from cirrhosis has been steadily declining in most countries worldwide since the mid or late 1970s (annual percent change, APC, between -5% and -1.5% in the last decade only for both sexes). In southern Europe, rates in the early 2000s were less than halved compared to earlier decades. In contrast, rates have been rising in Eastern European countries to reach extremely high values in the mid 1990s, and declined only thereafter. In the UK rates were still steadily rising (APC around +7% in men and +3% in women from England and Wales, and +9% in men and +7% in women from Scotland).
Conclusions: Mortality from cirrhosis shows favourable trends in most countries of the world, following the reduction in alcohol consumption and hepatitis B and C virus infection. The steady upward trends observed over more recent calendar periods in the UK and central and eastern European countries are attributed to the persistent increase in the prevalence of alcohol consumption.