How safe is it to drink alcohol socially after being cured of hepatitis C infection?
Answers from Stacey A. Rizza, M.D.
Unfortunately, it's impossible to say. No research has addressed this particular question. As a general rule, though, anyone concerned about liver health should avoid alcohol.
Hepatitis C-related liver scarring (fibrosis) often lasts long after treatment, as does severe fibrosis with abnormal cell regeneration and vessel formation (cirrhosis). Even when you're no longer infected, drinking alcohol may promote the progression of fibrosis or cirrhosis.
It's also possible to have a relapse of hepatitis C infection long after apparently successful treatment. Such relapses appear to be quite rare. But because alcohol is known to worsen hepatitis C-related liver disease, the remote possibility that the infection may return is further reason not to drink.
Dec. 30, 2014
Stacey A. Rizza, M.D.
See more Expert Answers
- Rizza SA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 22, 2014.
- Liver basics. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. http://www.hepatitis.va.gov/patient/basics/liver-single-page.asp. Accessed Dec.16, 2014.
- Poynard T, et al. Slow regression of liver fibrosis presumed by repeated biomarkers after virological cure in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Journal of Hepatology. 2013;59:675.
- Innes HA, et al. Excess liver-related morbidity of chronic hepatitis C patients who achieve a sustained viral response and are discharged from care. Hepatology. 2011;54:1547.
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