The prevalence of thyroid disorders has been evaluated in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection by many studies. From a review of the published controlled studies, it is possible to observe that: (1) most investigated patients with chronic HCV hepatitis, while a minority evaluated hepatitis C virus antibody (HCVAb)-seropositive patients (the two conditions are not comparable with regards to thyroidal repercussions, in fact, HCVAb-seropositive patients do not necessarily display changes of the immune system present in chronically infected HCV patients); and (2) some authors selected as internal control hepatitis B virus (HBV)-infected patients, while others selected apparently healthy controls or HCVAb-negative subjects. Pooling all data about HCV-positive patients (with chronic hepatitis or HCVAb positivity) and using as control the sum of healthy controls, HBV-infected patients and sera negative for HCVAb, a significant increase of the prevalence has been observed both for thyroid autoimmune disorders (odds ratio [OR] = 1.6; 95% confidence interval = [C]) 1.4-1.9) as well as for hypothyroidism (OR = 2.9; 95% CI = 2.0-4.1). The results of the epidemiologic studies showing an association between HCV infection and thyroid cancer need to be confirmed. The abovementioned evidences seem sufficient to suggest careful thyroid monitoring during the follow-up of patients with HCV infection.
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