Having a large waistline, a high body mass index and type 2 diabetes, may raise your risk for liver cancer, a new study suggests. He’s strategic director of digestive system cancer research at the American Cancer Society. Liver cancer rates have roughly tripled in the United States since the mid-1970s, “And the prognosis for patients diagnosed with this type of cancer is especially grim,” Campbell said.
None of the participants had cancer when the study began.
More than 2,100 developed liver cancer, the study found. After comparing rates of liver cancer among those who were obese and had diabetes and those who were obese but didn’t have diabetes, the researchers found that people with type 2 diabetes were 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer.
As the participants’ BMI – a calculation based on height and weight – increased, so did their risk of the cancer. The researchers found an 8 percent increase in risk for liver cancer for every extra 2 inches added to the waistline. The results were published Oct. 14 in the journal Cancer Research.
“This adds substantial support to liver cancer being on the list of obesity-associated cancers,” Campbell said in a journal news release.
While the study found an association between obesity and liver cancer, it doesn’t prove a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Still, the findings support previous studies suggesting that obesity and diabetes may be contributing to the sharp increase in liver cancer in recent years, the researchers said.
“Liver cancer isn’t simply related to excess alcohol intake and viral hepatitis infection,” Campbell said.
“For adults with type 2 diabetes mellitus, their risk of developing liver cancer is more than doubled relative to those who do not have type 2 diabetes mellitus, according to this study,” he added.
From a public health perspective, these study results are important because obesity and diabetes are so common, said study co-author Katherine McGlynn, a senior investigator at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.