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Does hepatitis B infection increase the risk of kidney disease?

Researchers investigated the relationship between chronic hepatitis B infection and chronic kidney disease in half a million adults in China.

In 2010, over 10% of adults in China had chronic kidney disease. People diagnosed with this condition have kidney damage or have shown signs of decreased kidney function for at least three months. Diabetes, high blood pressure, age, obesity, smoking, and cardiovascular disease are all risk factors for chronic kidney disease. Hepatitis B infection is also known to negatively affect kidney function. In fact, a recent study reported that hepatitis B infection is linked to a higher risk of kidney disease.

Because China is a country where hepatitis B infection is relatively prevalent, a group of researchers studied hepatitis B infection data alongside data on chronic kidney disease and overall health with the hope of better preventing chronic kidney disease. Their work was recently published in BMC Medicine.

Using an existing health database from the China Kadoorie Biobank, researchers collected hepatitis B and chronic kidney disease data from almost half a million Chinese adults. Between 2004 and 2008, the Biobank collected health data from participants at the start of the study and continued to monitor their health until the end of 2015. This long-term health information allowed researchers to study chronic kidney disease in relation to hepatitis B status, socio-demographic factors (age, education level, marital status) and lifestyle behaviors (diet, smoking status, exercise level, alcohol consumption).

The vast majority (97%) of study participants did not have hepatitis B. However, after analyzing the data and adjusting for various health and lifestyle factors, the researchers found that chronic hepatitis B infection was linked to a 37% increased risk of chronic kidney disease. Additionally, the combination of hepatitis B infection with smoking, low levels of exercise, and diabetes led to a higher risk of chronic kidney disease.

Based on these results, the researchers recommend that people with chronic hepatitis B infection receive early chronic kidney disease screenings. Increasing physical activity, quitting smoking, and improving blood sugar control may also help prevent chronic kidney disease in people with hepatitis B.

Written by Cindi A. Hoover, Ph.D.

Reference: Si J, Yu C, Guo Y et al. Chronic hepatitis B virus infection and risk of chronic kidney disease: a population-based prospective cohort study of 0.5 million Chinese adults. 2018. BMC Medicine 16:93.

Cindi Hoover PhD
Cindi Hoover PhD
Cindi has a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of Delaware and a B.S. in Biology from the College of William and Mary. Her research focused on the genetics and molecular biology of corals. Cindi gained scientific writing experience through her many years of work in genomics and molecular biology laboratories. She is excited to contribute to Medical News Bulletin and to help others learn about cutting-edge scientific research. In her free time, Cindi enjoys hanging out with her family, swimming, hiking, and photography.


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