Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is common in Arctic populations and high alcohol intake has been associated with an increased risk of a number of diseases. Yet, a description of the influence of alcohol intake in persons with HBV infection on liver biochemistry is lacking.
We aimed to describe the association between reported alcohol intake and liver biochemistry taking into account also HBV infection, ethnicity, Inuit diet, body mass index (BMI), gender and age in an Arctic population.
Design and methods
Population-based investigation of Inuit (n=441) and non-Inuit (94) in Greenland and Inuit living in Denmark (n=136). Participants filled in a questionnaire on alcohol intake and other life style factors. Blood samples were tested for aspartate aminotransferase (AST), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), bilirubin, albumin, hepatitis B surface antigen, hepatitis B surface antibody and hepatitis B core antibody. We also performed physical examinations.
Participation rate was 95% in Greenland and 52% in Denmark. An alcohol intake above the recommended level was reported by 12.9% of non-Inuit in Greenland, 9.1% of Inuit in East Greenland, 6.1% of Inuit migrants and 3.4% of Inuit in the capital of Greenland (p=0.035). Alcohol intake was associated with AST (p<0.001) and GGT (p=0.001), and HBV infection was associated with ALP (p=0.001) but not with AST, GGT, bilirubin or albumin in the adjusted analysis. Inuit had higher AST (p<0.001), GGT (p<0.001) and ALP (p=0.001) values than non-Inuit after adjustment for alcohol, diet, BMI and HBV exposure. Ethnic origin modified the association between alcohol and AST, while HBV infection did not modify the associations between alcohol and liver biochemistry.
Non-Inuit in Greenland reported a higher alcohol intake than Inuit. Ethnic origin was more markedly associated with liver biochemistry than was alcohol intake, and Greenlandic ethnicity modified the effect of alcohol intake on AST. HBV infection was slightly associated with ALP but not with other liver biochemistry parameters.