Objectives: Morbidity and mortality due to liver disease and cirrhosis vary significantly by race/ethnicity in the United States. We examined the prevalence of liver disease risk factors among blacks, Mexican Americans, and whites, including elevated aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase activity, infection with viral hepatitis B or hepatitis C, alcohol intake, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Methods: Data were obtained from the Fourth National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES IV). A logistic regression was used to examine the association of race/ethnicity to liver disease risk factors, controlling for the demographic and socioeconomic variables.
Results: Mexican-American men and women are the most likely to have elevated aminotransferase activity. Among men, Mexican Americans are more likely than whites to be heavy/binge drinkers, and blacks are more likely to have hepatitis B or hepatitis C. Among women, Mexican Americans are more likely than whites to be obese and diabetic, and less likely to be heavy/binge drinkers; blacks are more likely than whites to have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, be obese or diabetic, and less likely to be heavy/binge drinkers.
Conclusions: In this national sample, the prevalence of risk factors for liver disease varies by race/ethnicity. Mexican Americans and blacks have a greater risk of developing liver disease than their white counterparts. These findings are consistent with the observed racial/ethnic disparities in morbidity and mortality due to chronic liver disease and contribute to the efforts to identify the causes of these disparities. This information can be used by health professionals to tailor screening and intervention programs.