Alarming Trends: Mortality from Alcoholic Cirrhosis in the United States

Am J Med. 2022 Oct;135(10):1263-1266. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2022.05.015. Epub 2022 May 28.


Background: Alcoholic cirrhosis is an advanced form of alcohol-related liver disease. In the United States, between 2010 and 2016, alcohol-related liver disease was the primary cause of nearly 1 in 3 liver transplants, surpassing hepatitis C.

Methods: We utilized the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research database to compare trends in mortality from alcoholic cirrhosis in the United States in 1999 and 2019. We defined mortality from alcoholic cirrhosis as International Classification of Diseases code K70.3 (alcoholic cirrhosis of liver). We calculated mortality rates and mortality rate ratios (MRRs) per 100,000 from alcoholic cirrhosis in 10-year age groups from 25 to 85+ as measures of effect and 95% confidence intervals to test for significance.

Results: In 1999, there were 6007 deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis among 180,408,769 aged 25-85+ years, yielding a mortality rate of 3.3 per 100,000. In 2019, there were 23,780 deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis among 224,981,167 aged 25-85+ years, yielding a mortality rate of 10.6 per 100,000. The overall MRR of 3.2 was statistically significant. (P < .001), and was apparent in each 10-year age group.

Conclusions: These alarming trends in mortality from alcoholic cirrhosis in the United States contribute to the formulation of many hypotheses. These require testing in analytic studies designed a priori to do so. Meanwhile, clinical and public health efforts are necessary to curb the epidemics of heavy alcohol consumption and overweight and obesity in the United States that may be contributing to these alarming trends.

Keywords: Alcoholic cirrhosis; Mortality; Trends; United States.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Hepacivirus
  • Hepatitis C* / complications
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / epidemiology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic* / complications
  • United States / epidemiology