What is liver cancer ?
Liver cancer consists of malignant hepatic tumors (growths) in or on the liver.
The most common type of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma (or hepatoma, or HCC), and it tends to affect males more than females. According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, approximately 1,500 people in the United Kingdom die from HCC each year
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that liver cancer’s prevalence is around 30 cases per 100,000 people worldwide, with rates in parts of Africa and Eastern Asia being particularly high.
Experts say that common causes of HCC are regular high alcohol consumption, having unprotected sex and injecting drugs with shared needles.
Causes of liver cancer
Anabolic steroids – used by athletes and weight lifters. These male hormones, if used regularly and for long enough, can raise the risk of developing liver cancer, as well as some other cancers.
Aflatoxins – a substance made by a fungus and may be found in moldy wheat, groundnuts, corn, nuts, soybeans and peanuts. For liver cancer risk to increase there needs to be long-term exposure. This is more of a problem in less wealthy countries.
Cirrhosis – when liver cells are damaged and replaced with scar tissue. People with cirrhosis of the liver have a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
Diabetes – patients with diabetes, especially if they also have hepatitis, or regularly consume a lot of alcohol, are more likely to develop liver cancer.
Family history – people whose mother, father, brother, or sister had liver cancer are at a higher risk of developing it themselves, compared to others.
L-carnitine deficiency – studies suggest that an L-carnitine deficiency increases the risk of developing liver cancer.
Liver disease and inherited liver disease – people with hepatitis B or C have a significantly higher risk of developing liver cancer, compared to other healthy individuals. According to the American Cancer Society, hepatitis C is the most common cause of liver cancer in the USA. The Society mentions that some inherited liver diseases also increase the risk of liver cancer.
Low immunity – people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS have a risk of liver cancer that is five times greater than other healthy individuals.
Obesity – obesity raises the risk of developing many cancers, including liver cancer.
Gender – a higher percentage of males get liver cancer compared to females. Some experts believe this is not due to gender, but to lifestyle characteristics. On average, males tend to smoke and abuse alcohol more than females.
Smoking – individuals with hepatitis B or C have a higher risk of liver cancer if they smoke.
Water wells with arsenic – people who rely on water wells that contain arsenic may eventually have a significantly higher risk of developing several conditions or diseases, including liver cancer.