High Blood Sugar Appears to Spur on Progression of Cirrhosis in People with Hepatitis C

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects the liver and other tissues of the body. But researchers are just beginning to understand how it may also be linked to diabetes.

Liver fibrosis is considered the first stage of liver damage, when scarring begins to occur. If the damage continues unchecked, it eventually becomes more severe, at which point it is referred to as liver cirrhosis.

In a recent study, published in the Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry, researchers discovered that there was a correlation between high blood sugar in their participants and the pace at which fibrosis and cirrhosis progressed.

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Chronic hepatitis C (CHC) has been known to cause liver fibrosis and advanced hepatic disease over time. However, clinical risk factors associated with rapid CHC and hepatic fibrosis progression had not been assessed. The new study aimed to change that, however, by evaluating the association between high blood sugar levels and the progression of CHC (and other biomarkers) in patients with chronic HCV-genotype 4.

160 patients with chronic hepatitis C were studied. 80 had liver fibrosis, and the other 80 had cirrhosis. 40 healthy volunteers who did not test positive for hepatitis C were also studied.

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Upon investigating their data, the researchers learned that cirrhotic patients had high fasting, postprandial, and random glucose levels compared to those patients with liver fibrosis. In fact, at each stage in the advancement of liver disease, the researchers noted an increase in these glucose levels. They found that blood glucose levels are directly correlated with liver-disease-related biological parameters.

“Our results highlighted the fibrogenic impact of elevated glucose levels on CHC patients,” the team wrote.

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It’s unclear at this time whether blood sugar becomes more difficult to control as liver disease progresses or whether high blood sugar is a cause of the progression of the disease, although the latter seems more likely.

In any case, it’s a good idea for people with liver disease or a family history of the condition to work extra hard to make sure their glucose levels stay in check, as it could improve their long-term health.

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