Objective: The incidence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma has been rising in the United States during the last 2 decades. Heavy alcohol use has been widely recognized as one of the major etiological factors of hepatocellular carcinoma. This study sought to assess the extent to which heavy alcohol use contributed to premature death from hepatocellular carcinoma on a population scale in the United States.
Method: We analyzed the Multiple Cause of Death public-use data sets. Using codes from the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, hepatocellular carcinoma death was defined based on the underlying cause of death, and heavy alcohol use was indicated by the presence of any alcohol-induced medical conditions among the contributing causes of death. During 1999-2006 in the United States, 51,400 hepatocellular carcinoma deaths were identified from 17,727,245 natural deaths of persons age 25 or older. We conducted Poisson regression, life table, and multiple linear regression analyses to compare prevalence ratios, cumulative probabilities, and mean ages of death, respectively, from hepatocellular carcinoma by heavy alcohol use status across sex and race/ethnicity.
Results: Heavy alcohol use decedents had higher prevalence ratios of dying from hepatocellular carcinoma than from non-chronic liver diseases compared with those decedents without heavy alcohol use. Heavy alcohol use was associated with decreased mean ages and increased cumulative probabilities of death among hepatocellular carcinoma decedents across racial/ethnic groups in both sexes. This association was stronger among women than men and stronger among non-Hispanic Whites than non-Hispanic Blacks.
Conclusions: This study provides mortality-based empirical evidence to further establish heavy alcohol consumption as one of the key risk factors contributing to premature deaths from hepatocellular carcinoma in the United States, and its effect appears more prominent among women and non-Hispanic Whites.