5 Risk Factors Of Liver Cancer!

5 Risk Factors Of Liver Cancer!


By Dr. Dinesh Singh, Oncology,

Liver cancer begins in the cells of your liver and there are certain risk factors associated with it. A risk factor is anything which increases your chances of developing a disease. Risk factors could be preventable; for example, things like smoking and drinking alcohol, or they could be unchangeable, such as a person’s age, gender or genetic makeup. The most widespread form of liver cancer is known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and there are several risk factors associated with it:

  1. Chronic Hepatitis Infection: Long-tern (chronic) infection of the liver with either hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus is the most common risk factor that can lead to liver cancer. Infection with Hepatitis C is more common because there is no vaccine against Hepatitis C. Hepatitis is spread through contact with body fluids of an infected person, such as sharing contaminated needles or through unprotected sex.
  2. Liver Cirrhosis: Liver cancer is more likely to occur in people who have liver cirrhosis, that is, a condition in which liver cells are damaged and replaced by scar tissue. Cirrhosis is often caused by chronic hepatitis B or C infection and from alcohol abuse.
  3. Fatty Liver Disease and Obesity: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a medical condition in which fat gets accumulatedf in the liver cells of people who do not consume alcohol. Obesity and diabetes lead to development of fatty liver and this can cause a certain type of hepatitis known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This can cause cirrhosis which increases the risk of cancer.
  4. Exposure to Aflatoxins: Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by a type of fungus that grows on certain crops like corn, wheat, peanuts, soybean, rice and some other types of nuts if they are stored improperly in humid environments. Exposure to aflatoxins for long periods can increase the risk of liver cancer, especially in people who already have hepatitis infection.
  5. Exposure to chemicals: Repeated exposure to chemicals like vinyl chloride and thorium dioxide, also called thorotrast, increases the risk of liver cancer, particularly of angiosarcoma. It also can increase the risk of hepatocellular cancer but the risk is far lesser. Vinyl chloride is used in the making of plastic and thorotrast was used earlier as a part of X-Ray testing.

One thing to keep in mind is that risk factors are cumulative, which means that having more than one risk factor increases the chances of cancer even more. So, if a person has hepatitis B infection and is an alcoholic, their chances of developing liver cancer are more than that of a hepatitis-infected person who does not drink. Thus, people who are at risk for liver cancer should avoid the preventable factors.