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Smokers 'at risk of hepatitis' after liver transplant

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New research has shown that liver transplant recipients who are smokers or former smokers have an increased risk of suffering recurring hepatitis.

According to research published in the July issue of the journal Liver Transplantation, tobacco in cigarettes can adversely affect the immune system in transplant patients.

Results from the study show almost a quarter (23%) of transplant recipients were active or ex-smokers. Of those who smoked, 78% were men and 88% were Caucasian.

The study, which assessed the impact of smoking on incidence of complications, found alcohol-related issues were the cause of 29% of cases of liver disease among smokers and ex-smokers. For non-smokers, the figure was almost half that amount, at 16%.

According to researcher, the average survival time for smokers following a liver transplant is around 13 years. Further analysis shows that the recurrent viral hepatitis-free survival time was less than one year for smokers and close to five years for non-smokers.

Dr Mamatha Bhat, from McGill University in Canada, said: “Organs available for transplantation are scarce, with livers particularly in short supply.

“Transplant centres need to take an active role in identifying and minimizing risks to the success of liver transplantation.”

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