Obesity,Hepatitis C raise liver cancer risk

Live cancer,which has a 10-12 per cent survival rate in later stages,has tripled in the US over last 30 years.

Written by Agencies | Washington | Published:January 4, 2012 12:26 pm

Those obese people who have been infected with Hepatitis C face a higher chance of contracting a fatal liver cancer over the next 20 to 30 years,researchers have found out. may be at high risk of developing deadly liver cancer 20 to 30 years later,according to scientists.

Two recent Mayo Clinic studies offer a clearer picture of the rise of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC),or liver cancer,which has tripled in the US in the last three decades and has a 10 to 12 per cent five-year survival rate when detected in later stages.

“The studies illuminate the importance of identifying people with risk factors in certain populations to help catch the disease in its early,treatable stages”,said W Ray Kim. MD,a specialist in Gastroenterology and Hepatology and principal investigator of one study.

Dr Kim’s research group looked at several decades of records in the Rochester Epidemiology Project,a database that accounts for an entire county”s inpatient and outpatient care.

The study found the overall incidence of HCC in the population (6.9 per 100,000) is higher than has been estimated for the nation based on data from the National Cancer Institute (5.1 per 100,000). The study also found that HCC,which two decades ago tended to be caused by liver-scarring diseases such as cirrhosis from alcohol consumption,is now occurring as a consequence of hepatitis C infection.

“The liver scarring from hepatitis C can take 20 to 30 years to develop into cancer. We’re now seeing cancer patients in their 50s and 60s who contracted hepatitis C 30 years ago and didn’t even know they were infected”,noted Dr Kim.

Eleven percent of cases were linked to obesity,in particular fatty liver disease.

“It’s a small percentage of cases overall. But with the nationwide obesity epidemic,we believe the rates of liver cancer may dramatically increase in the foreseeable future”,said Kim.

Another study looked exclusively at the Somali population in US. 50,000 Somalis have settled in Minnesota over the last two decades. People from the country have a high prevalence of hepatitis B,a risk factor for HCC.

Researchers investigating records in the Mayo Clinic Life Sciences System confirmed that Hepatitis B remains a risk factor,but they were surprised to find that a significant percentage of liver cancer cases in the population are attributable to hepatitis C,which had not been known to be significantly prevalent.

The studies have been published in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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