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Researchers Explain Link Between Obesity, Liver Cancer

Underlying mechanism is increased inflammation, activation of oncogenic transcription factor

MONDAY, Jan. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity promotes hepatocellular carcinoma by stimulating production of two inflammatory cytokines, according to an animal study in the Jan. 22 issue of Cell.

Eek Joong Park, of the University of California-San Diego School of Medicine in La Jolla, and colleagues studied the effects of obesity on the development of chemically-induced hepatocellular carcinoma in laboratory mice.

The researchers found that obesity stimulates production of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor, resulting in chronic, low-grade inflammation and activation of the oncogenic transcription factor STAT3. The research suggests that anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs may prevent hepatocellular carcinoma development in obese men with chronic liver disease.

"The chronic inflammatory response caused by obesity and enhanced production of interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor may also increase the risk of other cancers," the authors write.

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