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Diabetics At Higher Liver Cancer Risk

A combination of diabetes and hepatitis C may be to blame

WEDNESDAY, March 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- People with diabetes face triple the risk of liver cancer compared to non-diabetics, according to a large U.S. study.

Researchers at Houston Veteran Affairs Medical Center analyzed data on nearly 2,100 Medicare patients aged 65 and older, all of whom were diagnosed with liver cancer between 1994 and 1999. They then compared that data to the records of 6,000 cancer-free patients of similar age.

The patients' information was checked for known liver cancer risk factors, such as hepatitis C and B, alcoholic liver disease, and hemochromatosis (poor absorption and storage of iron).

Reporting in the March issue of Gut, the Texas team say the overall incidence of diabetes among liver cancer patients was nearly twice that seen in individuals without liver cancer.

After factoring in demographics and other major risk factors, they concluded that diabetes nearly tripled the risk of liver cancer and may be an independent risk factor for this malignancy.

The researchers also found that liver cancer patients were nearly twice as likely to be male and non-white.

These results suggest hepatitis C infection may interact with diabetes to boost the odds a person will develop liver cancer, the Houston group concluded.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about liver cancer.

SOURCE: BMJ Specialist Journals, news release, March 8, 2005
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