A new study from the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that low vitamin D status is an independent factor associated with adverse clinical events in patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Approximately 1.25 million people in the United States are affected by hepatitis B. In most cases, hepatitis B causes a limited infection that goes away within a few months. However, in some cases, people are unable to get rid of the infection, a condition that is referred to as chronic hepatitis B (CHB).
CHB can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Cirrhosis, which is the hardening of the liver, causes the liver to scar and eventually stop working.
The little research that has been conducted on vitamin D and CHB shows that low levels are common in this population. This has led researchers to question whether vitamin D status affects outcomes in patients with CHB.
A recent observational study followed 426 patients with CHB for an average of 13 years to assess the effects of vitamin D deficiency on clinical outcomes, such as liver cancer, complications of cirrhosis, or death.
Researchers measured the patients’ vitamin D levels at baseline and found that 82% of the patients were vitamin D deficient. Throughout the course of the study, 22.8% of the patients developed a clinical event.
Patients who developed clinical events had significantly lower levels of vitamin D compared to those that did not.
Low vitamin D status was an independent factor associated with clinical events. Additionally, vitamin D deficiency was associated with a 90% increased risk of a clinical event.
The researchers conclude, “Vitamin D deficiency is common among patients with CHB and is associated with adverse clinical outcomes.”
Randomized controlled trials are needed to determine if vitamin D supplementation improves CHB and reduces the incidence of adverse outcomes in this patient population.