A new research finds that the No. 1 cause for a liver transplant in the United States is alcohol-related liver diseases, edging out Hepatitis C.

A study, which was published on JAMA Internal Medicine, said that the change in the primary reason for a liver transplant is because Hepatitis C, which used to be at the top spot, is becoming easier to treat, thanks to the development of effective drugs. Another factor is the changing idea on the acceptance of candidates to undergo the surgery despite his/her drinking history.

Increase In Patients With Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

"Across the country, and we show in a prior study, people are changing their minds. More and more providers are willing to transplant patients with ALD," the study's lead author and Dr. Brian P. Lee said.

The researchers looked at data gathered by the United Network for Organ Sharing from 2002 to 2016 and noticed that the cases that stem from alcohol-related diseases alarmingly increased. They analyzed 33,000 liver transplant patients and observed that from 24.2 percent of the patients that had ALD in 2002, the figure soared to 36.7 by 2016.

'Six-Month Rule' On Liver Transplant

The long-standing debate on the "six-moth rule" peaked in 1997 when a study said that patients who will have a liver transplant operation should be at least six months sober before the operation. The notion behind this is that, those who can adhere to that period of sobriety have a lower chance that they'll return to their old habit.

There was also a concern that donors would stop donating their organs if they would know that these will be given to people with alcohol problems. However, studies from France and the University of Pittsburgh found that there was no evidence that six months of sobriety prior the liver transplant could actually lessen the likelihood of a relapse.

The recent study therefore sheds light on the evolution of the openness of the liver transplant community on patients with alcohol-related diseases like alcoholic cirrhosis.

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