High Cholesterol Diet Linked to Liver-Related Death in Hep C

Women with hepatitis C virus (HCV), advanced fibrosis, and compensated cirrhosis who consume a high-cholesterol diet are at a higher risk of needing a liver transplant or dying from a liver-related complication, according to new research.

Researchers knew that animals experience hepatic inflammation and fibrosis when they consume cholesterol, but they didn’t know whether cholesterol affects humans in the same way.

To investigate how cholesterol affects the human liver, researchers performed a retrospective cohort study that included 657 patients with HCV and advanced fibrosis and compensated cirrhosis participating in the Hepatitis C Antiviral Long-Term Treatment Against Cirrhosis (HALT C) Trial.

Researchers analyzed cholesterol intake via 2 self-reported food questionnaires, which asked about meal frequency and portion size.

After a median 4.7-year follow-up, researchers found that 46 patients had died from liver-related disease and 52 patients had liver transplants.

Women who consumed a high-cholesterol diet had a higher risk of liver-related complications or death than those who consumed the recommended intake. This risk was not seen in men.

“High dietary cholesterol was associated with an increased risk for liver-related death and transplantation in HCV-infected women with advanced fibrosis or compensated cirrhosis,” researchers concluded. “Future studies should assess whether reducing cholesterol intake, among women who consume an excessive amount, can decrease HCV-related mortality.”

—Amanda Balbi


Yua L, Morishima C, and Ioannou GN. Sex difference in liver-related mortality and transplantation associated with dietary cholesterol in chronic hepatitis C virus infection. Br J Nutr. 2016;115(2):193-201. Published online November 6, 2015. doi:10.1017/S0007114515004158.