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Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

Cancer By Dr Poonam Sachdev , Expert Content / Jan 19, 2013
Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

There are several risk factors of liver cancer ranging  from age of the patient, his/her sex to obesity and other diseases such as diabetes and hepatitis. Find out which factor put you at the risk of liver cancer to protect this malignancy on

There is no cure for liver cancer and the cause of liver cancer is not known exactly. But there are several factors which increase your risk of primary liver cancer. The risk factors for liver cancer are listed below.

Sex: Men are at higher risk of developing liver cancer than are women (men are twice as likely as women to get liver cancer).

Age of the person: Liver cancer is more common in older adults (>60 years) in the developed nations such as USA, European countries and Australia. However in developing countries of Asia and Africa, liver cancer affects younger adults — between 20 and 50.

HBV or HCV Infections: Chronic infection with hepatotropic viruses such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) increases your chances of liver cancer. This is one of the most important risk factor for liver cancer. Vaccination with hepatitis B in a person who is not already infected with hepatitis B virus can prevent chronic hepatitis B infection and may protect against liver cancer.


[Read: How to Prevent Hepatitis B]


Cirrhosis: This progressive and irreversible disease which affects the liver increases your risk of developing liver cancer. Cirrhosis may be caused due to alcohol abuse, certain drugs and other chemicals, and infection with certain viruses or parasites. Other liver diseases which increase a person’s risk of developing liver cancer include hemochromatosis and Wilson's disease.

Diabetes: The risk of liver cancer is higher in people with diabetes than people who don't have diabetes.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Accumulation of fat in the liver increases a person’s chance of developing liver cancer.

Exposure to aflatoxins: Aflatoxin is known to increase the risk of liver cancer. If you eat foods contaminated with fungi that produce aflatoxins your risk of developing liver cancer is increased. Foods that can be contaminated with aflatoxin include peanuts, corn, and other nuts and grains. Aflatoxin contamination in the United States is less due to safety regulations measures but it continues to be problem in certain parts of Africa and Asia.

Family history of liver cancer: The risk of liver cancer is higher in people who have family members with liver cancer. The exact gene or genes which increase the risk are not yet known.

Alcohol consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption daily for many years can cause cirrhosis (an irreversible type of liver damage), and cirrhosis increases the risk of developing liver cancer.


[Read: What is Cirrhosis?]


Obesity: Research suggests that a higher body mass index increases a person’s risk of liver cancer.

There is no cure for liver cancer and treatment for liver cancer has several limitations. Despite extensive research and studies life expectancy of liver cancer continues to be poor. This makes it essential to take measures to avoid modifiable risk factors of liver cancer such as infection with hepatitis B and C virus, excessive alcohol consumption, obesity and exposure to aflatoxins.


Read more articles on Liver Cancer.




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