High body mass index (BMI), increased waist circumference and type 2 diabetes mellitus may increase the risk of liver cancer, a new study has found. A team of researchers from the National Cancer Institute in the US and the American Cancer Society, studied whether obesity, and type 2 diabetes mellitus are associated with liver cancer risk.
Peter Campbell from the American Cancer Society and colleagues pooled data from 1.57 million adults enrolled in 14 different US-based prospective studies. At enrollment, participants completed questionnaires related to their height, weight, alcohol intake, tobacco use and other factors potentially related to cancer risk. None of them had cancer at enrollment.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus was diagnosed in 6.5 per cent of the study participants. Over time, 2,162 developed liver cancer, which the researchers had verified. They compared the rates of liver cancer among participants with and without obesity and diabetes to determine the relative risks of liver cancer.
Researchers found that for every five kg/m2 increase in BMI, there was a 38 and 25 per cent increase in the risk for liver cancer in men and women, respectively. The increase in risk was eight per cent for every five cm increase in waist circumference.
When adjusted for alcohol intake, smoking, race and BMI, participants with type 2 diabetes mellitus were 2.61 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer and the risk increased with increase in BMI. “We found that each of these three factors was associated, robustly, with liver cancer risk. All three relate to metabolic dysfunction. This adds substantial support to liver cancer being on the list of obesity-associated cancers,” Campbell said.
The findings also add further evidence to support public health efforts aimed at curbing obesity, Campbell added. “This is yet another reason to maintain a body weight in the ‘normal’ range for your height,” he said. “Liver cancer is not simply related to excess alcohol intake and viral hepatitis infection,” he said.
“From a public health perspective, these results are very important because obesity and diabetes, unfortunately, are common conditions in the population,” said Katherine A McGlynn, from the National Cancer Institute. “While some other well-described risk factors, such as hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus, are associated with increased risks of liver cancer, these factors are much less common than are obesity and diabetes,” McGlynn added.
The study was published in the journal Cancer Research.