The first population-based US study looking into major risk factorsfor liver cancer found that diabetes is a major player. In fact, theresearchers reported that it raises the risk 2-to 3-fold. Using data fromthe Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End-Results-Medicare database,the researchers included 2161 patients aged 65 and older with a diagnosisof liver cancer between 1994 and 1999. The control groupincluded 6183 randomly selected participants.
Reporting in Gut (April 2005), the researchers discovered that43% of the patients with liver cancer had diabetes diagnosed duringthe 3 years before the liver cancer diagnosis, compared with 19%of the control group. The researchers wanted to eliminate thechance that liver cancer was the cause of diabetes. Factoring indemographics, the results of the study found the prevalence ofdeveloping liver cancer was 3 times greater for individuals with diabetes,compared with patients without the disease.
After rejecting patients with the hepatitis B or C virus, alcoholicdisease, or hemochromatosis, the findings also indicated that thechance of developing liver cancer was still 2.87 to 3.11 times higherfor patients with diabetes. The hepatitis C virus alone was linkedwith a 24-fold higher risk of developing liver cancer, and in the presenceof diabetes it increased 37-fold.