Liver cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the liver. The most common form of liver cancer is hepato-cellular carcinoma, which accounts for about three-quarters of all liver cancers. Although liver cancer can have many different causes, most cases are associated with one or more of the following risk factors.
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One of the most common causes of liver cancer is a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the hepatitis C virus (HCV). HBV and HCV are both blood-borne viruses that can damage liver cells and lead to inflammation. People with chronic HBV or HCV infections have a significantly increased risk of developing liver cancer.
Other infections that can cause liver cancer include Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human cytomegalovirus (CMV), and Helicobacter pylori (H pylori). EBV is a virus that primarily infects lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. CMV is a common virus that belongs to the herpes family of viruses. H pylori is a bacterium that infects the stomach lining and can cause stomach ulcers.
Excessive alcohol consumption is another major risk factor for developing liver cancer. Alcohol abuse can lead to fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and cirrhosis—all of which can increase your risk of developing liver cancer. It’s important to note that you don’t have to be an alcoholic to develop liver cancer from alcohol consumption. Even moderate drinking can increase your risk if you have other risk factors, such as viral hepatitis or being overweight.
Being overweight or obese also increases your risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common type of primary liver cancer. Obesity is also a risk factor for other conditions that can lead to liver cancer, such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. Fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver cells due to an imbalance between fat synthesis and fat removal. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the healthy tissue in your Liver is replaced with scar tissue due to long-term damage from conditions like viral hepatitis or excess alcohol consumption.
Causes of Liver Cancer 1. Cirrhosis
Cirrhosis is the leading cause of liver cancer. Cirrhosis is a condition in which the liver slowly deteriorates and scar tissue forms in place of healthy tissue. Cirrhosis can be caused by viral infections such as hepatitis C, long-term alcohol abuse, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. People with cirrhosis have a high risk of developing liver cancer.
Causes of Liver Cancer 2. Hepatitis B
Hepatitis B is a virus that infects the liver and can cause long-lasting damage. People with chronic hepatitis B infection have a higher risk of developing liver cancer. Hepatitis B can be prevented through vaccination.
Causes of Liver Cancer 3. Aflatoxin Exposure
Aflatoxin exposure is another major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common form of liver cancer. Aflatoxins are poisonous substances produced by certain types of mold that commonly grow on crops such as peanuts, corn, and wheat. People who eat foods contaminated with aflatoxins are at increased risk for developing liver cancer.
Chemicals and Toxins
Several chemicals and toxins are known to increase your risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma, including Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1), vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), thorium dioxide (ThO2), arsenic, and internalized iron particles.” AFB1 is produced by fungi that contaminate crops like corn and peanuts. VCM is used in PVC production. ThO2is used in making Thorotrast®, a radiographic contrast agent used in medical imaging.” Arsenic occurs naturally in water, air, soil, and rocks but can also enter food or water supplies through contamination from industrial sources.” Internalized iron particlescan accumulate in people with hereditary hemochromatosis—a condition in which too much iron builds up in body tissues.”
Unknown Causes In some cases, the underlying cause of hepatocellular carcinoma is unknown.” However,” research suggests that certain genetic mutations may play a role in the development of this form of Liver cancer.” These mutations may be inherited or acquired during your lifetime.” Inherited mutations are passed down from parents to children through their genes.” Acquired mutations occur during a person’s lifetime as a result of environmental exposures or other factors.” Regardless of how they occur,” these mutations alter normal cell function and division,” which can ultimately lead to Liver Cancer.”
There are several genes that have been linked to an increased risk of developing liver cancer, including the TP53 gene and the CTNNB1 gene. Having a family history of liver cancer also increases your risk.
Other Risk Factors
Other risk factors for developing liver cancer include smoking, obesity, diabetes, and a family history of the disease.
Liver cancer is a serious disease that can have many different causes. However, there are several measures that can be taken to help prevent it, including vaccination against hepatitis B, eating foods that are not contaminated with aflatoxins, and maintaining a healthy weight. If you have any other risk factors for developing liver cancer, it is important to talk to your doctor so that you can take steps to protect your health.