A risk factor is known as a factor that increases a person’s chance of developing cancer. Risk factors often influence the development of cancer but don’t directly cause it. If you have a few risk factors it is always better to speak to your doctor about it. So that necessary health and lifestyle changes can be made. It is also important to know that having a few risk factors or even several of them does not mean that a person will definitely develop cancer as studies have shown that some people who develop cancer have few or no known risk factors.
Studies have linked several risk factors to liver cancer and these include:
In women, hepatocellular carcinoma is seen to be more common and this is mainly due to a number of factors like lifestyle and other health conditions which can be risk factors that are mentioned below.
Chronic viral hepatitis
Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus is the most common risk factor for liver cancer worldwide. These infections can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. It is also important to know that these infections can spread from person to person through unprotected sex, contaminated needles, childbirth and even through blood transfusion.
Smoking increases the risk of developing liver cancer. Current smokers have a higher risk of developing liver cancer than former smokers. However, smokers, in general, are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer than nonsmokers.
Heavy alcohol use has been the leading cause of cirrhosis which has been linked to an increased risk of developing liver cancer.
Arsenic that has contaminated drinking water has been linked to increasing the risk developing of liver cancer for the person who consumes the water for a long period of time.
Being overweight can increase the risk of developing liver cancer because being obese has been linked to liver conditions such as fatty liver and cirrhosis.
Type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes has been linked to an increased risk of developing liver cancer as most people who have type 2 diabetes are overweight and being overweight has been linked to having other liver conditions.
Anabolic steroids are male hormones that are used by some athletes for increased strength. Prolonged use has been linked to developing hepatocellular cancer.
Certain rare conditions like Wilson disease and glycogen storage disease can increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
People with cirrhosis are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer. Cirrhosis is a condition in which liver cells get damaged and these cells are replaced by scar tissue.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
People who have little or no alcohol can also develop fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is commonly seen in people who are obese or overweight and has been seen to increase the risk of developing liver cancer.
Primary biliary cirrhosis
In primary biliary cirrhosis, the bile ducts are damaged are distorted and this can further lead to cirrhosis. People with advanced primary biliary cirrhosis are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.
Inherited metabolic diseases
A few inherited metabolic diseases can lead to cirrhosis. People who have a condition known as hereditary hemochromatosis absorb too much iron from the food. The iron settles in tissues throughout the body and even in the liver. If too much of iron settles in the liver it can damage the liver and can cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Read more on the side effects of radiation therapy in the treatment of liver cancer.