A case-control study was undertaken to evaluate the roles of the hepatitis B virus (HBV), cigarette smoking, and alcohol use in the etiology of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A major purpose of the study was to evaluate the effect of cigarette smoking on HCC among hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-negative persons, since it had been suggested that the relative effect of cigarette smoking on HCC was higher among HBsAg-negative persons than among HBsAg-positive persons. Eighty-six cases and 161 hospital controls were included in the study.

This study confirmed the strong relationship between the HBV and HCC. Twelve of 67 cases and none of 63 controls were chronically infected with HBV as evidenced by serum HBsAg. The study also found a moderately strong relationship between alcohol use and HCC.

The results of the present study do not support the hypothesis that cigarette smoking is a risk factor for HCC. Among all subjects, the relative rate of HCC for cigarette smokers compared with nonsmokers after adjustment for alcohol consumption was 1.0 with 95% confidence limits, 0.5 to 1.8. Among HBsAg-negative subjects, the relative rate was 1.1 with 95% confidence limits, 0.5 to 2.4. There was also no consistent dose-response relationship between quantity smoked and HCC in this study.

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This work was supported by a grant from the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services (CA29968) and by an Environmental Health Science National Research Award (ST32ES07069).

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