Background: The role of customary diet and physical activity in development of advanced HCV-related liver disease is not well-established.
Methods: We conducted a retrospective association study in 91 male veterans with PCR-confirmed chronic HCV and biopsy-determined hepatic pathology. Respondents completed the Block Food Frequency and the International Physical Activity questionnaires. We conducted three independent assessments based on hepatic pathology: fibrosis (advanced = F3-F4 vs. mild = F1-F2), inflammation (advanced = A2-A3 vs. mild = A1) and steatosis (advanced = S2-S3 vs. mild = S1). Each assessment compared estimated dietary intake and physical activity in veterans with advanced disease to that in analogous veterans with mild disease. Multivariate models adjusted for total calories, age, race/ethnicity, biopsy-to-survey lag-time, BMI, pack-years smoking, and current alcohol use.
Results: Average veteran age was 52, with 48% African-American. Advanced fibrosis was more prevalent than advanced inflammation or steatosis (52.7% vs. 29.7% vs. 26.4%, respectively). The strongest multivariate association was the suggestive 14-fold significantly decreased advanced fibrosis risk with lowest dietary copper intake (OR = 0.07, 95% CI 0.01-0.60). Other suggestive associations included the 6.5-fold significantly increased advanced inflammation risk with lower vitamin E intake and 6.2-fold significantly increased advanced steatosis risk with lower riboflavin intake. The only physical activity associated with degree of hepatic pathology was a two-fold greater weekly MET-minutes walking in veterans with mild compared to advanced steatosis (P = 0.02).
Conclusions: Several dietary factors and walking may be associated with risk of advanced HCV-related liver disease in male veterans. However, given our modest sample size, our findings must be considered as provisional pending verification in larger prospective studies.