Most people associate liver disease with alcoholism and hepatitis. According to new research, however, obesity can also play a role in determining a person’s risk of developing liver problems.
Published in the October 14 issue of the journal Cancer Research, the recent study determined that having a high body mass index (BMI) or large waistline increased a person’s risk for liver cancer. What’s more, having type 2 diabetes mellitus – a condition associated with obesity – doubled a person’s risk.
To reach their findings, researchers studied data on 1.57 million adults from over a dozen United States medical studies. Although none of the subjects had cancer when the studies began, many were obese. By the end of the study, over 2,100 of the participants developed liver cancer. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that as a person’s BMI increased, so too did his or her risk for liver cancer. They also uncovered an 8-percent increase in risk for every extra two inches of fat on a subject’s waistline.
A Growing Problem
Liver cancer rates have nearly tripled in the U.S. since the mid-1970s. While they can’t say for sure, most health experts attribute the increase, at least in part, to rising rates of obesity. While only about eight adults out of 100,000 will develop liver cancer in any given year, obesity also increases a person’s risk of other serious diseases, including:
- Coronary Heart Disease
- High Blood Pressure
- Metabolic Syndrome
- Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome
Numerous studies have also linked obesity to cancers of the colon, rectum, esophagus, pancreas, breast and more. In fact, According to the American Cancer Society, excess body weight contributes to as many as 1 out of every 5 cancer-related deaths.
With this in mind, it’s clear that doctors should urge their patients to maintain healthy weights. Likewise, if they are overweight, patients should be monitored for signs of type 2 diabetes, which has clearly been established as an obesity-related disease.