Hispanics, as well as the elderly and people with diabetes, have a higher risk of developing liver cancer, a new study has shown.
University of Florida researchers looked for factors that put patients with fatty liver disease at greater risk of developing cancer. They studied the differences between alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well as demographic differences among patients.
The findings showed alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which are distinguished by the patient’s alcohol consumption, share the same cancer risk factors. This suggested that demographic differences may be what puts some patients more at risk of developing liver cancer.
The study found Hispanic patients, as well as older and diabetic patients, are more likely to develop liver cancer. Those over the age of 60 are almost four times more at risk, while Hispanics and diabetics are nearly twice as much at risk. The next step is to focus on why that is.
The study also found that while high cholesterol levels were associated with having cancer, being diagnosed with high cholesterol and being treated for it may lower the chance of developing liver cancer. The team will study whether cholesterol medications could reduce cancer risks by using the statewide OneFlorida clinical research network and database.
Now that hepatitis C treatments have improved, the main reason for liver transplantation is alcohol abuse. Other factors may lead to needing a transplant, such as obesity and diabetes, which are correlated with fatty liver disease. Combining risks, such as genetic components to liver cancer and a risk like obesity or alcohol use, can increase the risk of cancer.