Smoking and Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B and Your Liver
Hepatitis B is the most common serious liver infection in the world. Your liver is a vital organ which functions as your body’s engine. It processes toxins, stores vitamins, controls production and removal of cholesterol, produces immune factors, and releases bile to assist proper digestion. Hepatitis B may greatly inflame and damage the liver so it cannot perform these important processes efficiently. If left untreated, hepatitis B can cause severe damage such as fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer and lead to liver failure.
Smoking and Your Liver
Smoking itself may not directly cause liver cancer, though it can dramatically increase the risk for cancer in individuals who have other risk factors, such as a chronic hepatitis B infection (1). Carcinogenic chemicals in cigarettes can cause further damage to liver cells that are already at risk for cancer due to hepatitis infection. Research has found a strong association between chronic hepatitis B and C infections and smoking cigarettes as established risk factors for liver cancer (2). For example, research has found that smoking contains chemicals with cytotoxic potential which increases necroinflammation and fibrosis. Additionally, smoking increases the production of proinflammatory cytokines that are involved in liver cell injury (2).
Smoking and Hepatitis B
A 2010 study from the International Prevention Research Institute found an additive interaction between hepatitis B infections and cigarette smoking. Smoking seemed to interact with both hepatitis B and C infections, and the results of the study suggest a synergistic effect between smoking and hepatitis infections on the risk of liver cancer (1). For example, a study conducted in China found that individuals who smoke and live with hepatitis B have a higher risk for liver cancer because the liver’s processes are impaired from the toxic chemicals from long-term cigarette use (3).
There is no “right” way to quit smoking; it can be cold turkey or gradual – it is your personal decision. If you are interested or considering quitting smoking or looking for alternatives to cigarettes, visit this website for some great tips and recommendations to help you quit.
- Chuang, S. C., Lee, Y. C., Hashibe, M., Dai, M., Zheng, T., & Boffetta, P. (2010). Interaction between cigarette smoking and hepatitis B and C virus infection on the risk of liver cancer: a meta-analysis. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 19(5), 1261–1268. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-1297
- El-Zayadi A. R. (2006). Heavy smoking and liver. World journal of gastroenterology, 12(38), 6098–6101. https://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v12.i38.6098
- Liu, X., Baecker, A., Wu, M., Zhou, J. Y., Yang, J., Han, R. Q., Wang, P. H., Jin, Z. Y., Liu, A. M., Gu, X., Zhang, X. F., Wang, X. S., Su, M., Hu, X., Sun, Z., Li, G., Mu, L., He, N., Li, L., Zhao, J. K., … Zhang, Z. F. (2018). Interaction between tobacco smoking and hepatitis B virus infection on the risk of liver cancer in a Chinese population. International journal of cancer, 142(8), 1560–1567. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijc.31181
Shrey Patel, University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine
Kelli Sloan, University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice
Evangeline Wang, Public Health Program and Outreach Coordinator, Hepatitis B Foundation