Cirrhosis Mortality Risk: The Impact of Animal Protein Intake - European Medical Journal

Cirrhosis Mortality Risk: The Impact of Animal Protein Intake

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HIGHER animal protein intake is associated with greater mortality risk in patients with liver cirrhosis, according to new research. Whilst dietary modifications and nutritional support play a key role in reducing liver cirrhosis-associated mortality, information regarding the impact of dietary protein intake and cirrhosis-related mortality is scarce.

Ghazal Daftari, School of Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran, and colleagues performed a prospective cohort study to evaluate whether dietary protein intake correlated with mortality in patients with liver cirrhosis.

The study included 121 patients with a diagnosis of liver cirrhosis for ≥6 months. The average age of participants was 54.8 years and 68% were male. Those enrolled completed 168-item validated food-frequency questionnaires, which took place with a trained dietician in an in-person format. Patients were followed up for 48 months. During this period there were 43 deaths, of which 47% occurred due to liver failure.

The authors found that whilst total protein and dairy protein intake were associated with a 62% reduced risk for cirrhosis-related mortality, higher animal protein intake led to a 3.8-fold increased mortality risk (hazard ratio [HR]: 3.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.70–8.20). In contrast, the HRs for dairy protein intake and total protein intake were 0.38 (95% CI: 0.13–1.10) and 0.38 (95% CI: 0.20–1.10), respectively.

Moreover, higher animal protein intake was found to be associated with increased mortality risk in patients with greater disease severity, indicated by a Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score of ≥11 (HR: 1.90; 95% CI: 0.70–3.90). Additionally, it was noted that increased vegetable protein intake had a non-significant inverse correlation with risk of mortality.

Daftair commented that the study found “a significant reverse association between total and dairy protein intake and a significant direct association between animal protein intakes with cirrhosis-related mortality,” and discussed the need for further studies to investigate and evaluate these findings and determine the optimal intake of total, vegetable, dairy, and animal protein.

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