(HealthDay News) – For liver transplant recipients, smoking correlates with an increased risk of recurrent viral hepatitis.

Mamatha Bhat, MD, from the McGill University Health Center in Montreal, and colleagues examined the effect of smoking on a range of complications after liver transplantation over a 14-year period at McGill University Health Center. From 1990–2004 there were 444 liver transplants, 63 of which were repeat transplants.

Based on analysis involving only primary liver transplant recipients, the researchers found that the median survival time for active or former smokers was 13.23 years and was not estimable for nonsmokers. For smokers, the median recurrent viral hepatitis-free survival time was significantly shorter than for nonsmokers (0.87 vs. 4.10 years; P=0.03). Following transplantation, the time to biliary complications, time to first rejection episode, time to depression, and patient survival were not associated with smoking status. According to multivariate analysis, recurrent viral hepatitis-free survival correlated strongly with smoking (hazard ratio [HR], 2.04; P=0.018), with nonsignificant, inverse associations seen for East Asian race (HR, 0.26; P=0.06) and male gender (HR, 0.59; P=0.06).

“Our study in particular has demonstrated that recurrent viral hepatitis is more frequent among transplant recipients who are either active or former smokers at the time of transplantation,” the authors write. “These findings indicate the need to identify these patients at the first transplant assessment and to strongly encourage smoking cessation through enrollment in a cessation program.”

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