Obesity and Liver Cancer

Obesity and Liver CancerA new study has linked obesity during the earlier years of life with a heightened risk of liver cancer, especially in men. A team of researchers from the Center for Digestive Diseases at Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden found that overweight and obese young men are at an increased risk for developing liver disease later on in life, especially if the issues with obesity are allowed to persist into adulthood.

The researchers are emphasizing the importance of addressing obesity as a health concern as early as possible, suggesting that taking early interventions and addressing the cause of obesity earlier on in life could reduce an individual’s likelihood of struggling with obesity indefinitely, as well as reduce the risk of developing obesity-related diseases, like liver cancer.

Obesity has long been associated with a laundry list of serious health concerns, from heart disease to arthritis, from type-2 diabetes to sleep apnea. For years now certain cancers have also appeared on the list of potential illnesses that obesity may open the door to, but there was previously not such an emphasis on the risk posed to liver cancer in particular.

The connection between obesity and liver cancer is identified as an issue of fat exposure to the liver. There is a condition that is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which essentially causes damage to the liver much in the same way of an alcoholic, taxing the liver so much with fat that it becomes unable to keep up, going into failure and putting your life at risk. The repeated deposit of fat in the liver typically leads to cirrhosis of the liver, which is the leading cause for liver transplants world-wide.

Researchers out of Karolinska University Hospital looked at longitudinal data to understand the relationship between obesity and liver disease. Looking specifically at men, the researchers analyzed the conscription records of soldiers over the course of several decades. They found that men who were overweight when they were young were about 50 percent more likely to develop liver disease later in life. For those who were considered obese, the risk was closer to about 200 percent. Those who were obese and who were already diagnosed with type-2 diabetes presented a risk of approximately 300 percent.

This finding worries many researchers, weight loss doctors and surgeons, as the global increase in obesity could then mean a global increase in liver disease, and the fact remains that there just aren’t enough healthy livers to accommodate such a need. The best course of action is to be proactive, doing what you can to lose weight by working with your weight loss surgeon. Losing weight can reverse the damage done to the liver during obesity and reduce your risk for developing liver disease in the future.