Monday, 18 January 2016

Liver Cancer Prevention

As most of us would now know, about a week ago David Bowie died of liver cancer. No I am not exploiting him, I have every right to speak as I please and I am done with the expectation that I should shut up and "celebrate" his life. There are ways to prevent liver cancer that most people do not know about, which deserve more likes and shares than sentimental poetry.

One of the things that can reduce liver cancer risk is green tea. A huge meta-analysis, involving several hundred thousand people, found that regular green tea consumption resulted in a 26% reduced risk of liver cancer. The average risk reduction was 32% among liver cancer, cirrhosis, steatosis (fatty liver disease), hepatitis and chronic liver disease. There were no significant differences in this protective effect between Asian, European and American participants. In another, tea consumption was associated with a 21% reduced risk of primary liver cancer in the higher-quality studies, with women having a 46% lower risk.

As I have written before, coffee may also lower the risk of liver cancer. In this analysis, the summarised risk reduction for each cup of coffee per day was 23%, which isn't really that bad. However, added sugar and milk, as well as how the coffee was grown all make a difference, as it would with tea. This is likely to explain inconsistent results found in studies such as these.

Before I am also accused of caffeine addiction, another, smaller study has found a reduced risk of liver cancer from consumption of linoleic acid and possibly beta-carotene. The highest tertile of linoleic acid intake reduced risk of liver cancer by 65%, while beta-carotene was associated with a 52% reduced risk. While iron intake seemed to triple the risk of developing liver cancer, most of this was taken off when iron from wine was not counted. Alcohol consumption is already a widely known risk of liver cancer, just as the hepatitis B and C viruses are, which are sexually transmitted or passed on by infected needles - but it is difficult to run out of reasons why these activities are bad ideas. On top of this study, an analysis involving over one million people found that every daily increase in vegetable intake was associated with an 8% risk reduction in liver cancer. The summarised reduced risk was 28%, and this did not change regardless of hepatitis, alcohol intake or smoking. But still don't do them.

This is only a small sample of the research into liver cancer prevention that is available, it is not something that "just happens" to people.

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