Q: Is there a connection between diabetes and liver cancer?
A:Over 24,000 new cases of liver cancer occurred in 2010, according to the American Cancer Society. Both the incidence rate and death rate for liver cancer have been steadily increasing since the early 1980s. Common risk factors for the disease include alcohol-related cirrhosis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and chronic infections with the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses.
According to a recent study by the National Cancer Institute, diabetes may now be the most common risk factor for liver cancer in the United States. The study involved more than 5,600 people with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), which is the most prevalent form of liver cancer today. Various risk factors were examined in the study, including diabetes, the hepatitis B and C viruses, alcohol-related liver disease, obesity and an array of rare metabolic disorders.
The results of the study revealed that diabetes was found in the largest percentage of HCC patients of all risk factors, although the hepatitis C virus delivers the highest individual risk for liver cancer per person. Diabetes was discovered in approximately 34 percent of the patients with HCC. Diabetes is often linked with obesity, and it has yet to be determined whether that affects these results in any significant manner. Also under evaluation is whether diabetes medication plays a role in the link to liver cancer.