Obesity does increase risk of liver cancer - Conclusive report

17 Oct 2007
Liver cancer, the third most common cause of death from cancer worldwide, has been linked conclusively to obesity by researchers analysing 11 previous studies.

The report, from the Karolinska Institute, Sweden, is the first meta-analysis of data regarding overweight and obese people in relation to liver cancer, and indicates that excess body weight is associated with increased risk.

Results showed that the risk was 17% higher among persons who were overweight and 89% higher for those who were clinically obese, when compared with normal weight. (Overweight patients were those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25-30 kgm-2; obese ¡Ý30 kgm-2; and normal 18.5-24.9 kg m-2.)

Notably, the relationship between obesity and liver cancer appeared stronger in men than in women.

The researchers had identified a disparity between the rate of increase in liver cancer and the causes, noticing that hepatitis B and alcohol abuse could not be responsible alone for the large increase, and decided to summarise the widespread evidence already published linking liver cancer and obesity.

Obesity, increasingly worse over the last two decades worldwide, is already known to increase the risk of cancer of the breast, kidney, colon, pancreas, gallbladder and oesophagus.

Dr Larsson and Professor Wolk, whose work was published in the British Journal of Cancer, indicated that liver cancer may therefore, in part, be prevented by maintaining a healthy body weight.