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Does Having Type 2 Diabetes Increase The Risk Of Liver Cancer?

Diabetes mellitus is a metabolic condition which has been on the rise over the last decade or so with more and more people being diagnosed with it. The disease occurs as a result of improper regulation of blood sugar and insulin in the body. Based on a study around 10% of the population around the world has a known diagnosis of diabetes mellitus and the numbers are increasing by the day. It has been estimated that more than 300 million people will be affected by this disease by the year 2030[1].

As back as in the 1980s, during a study it was observed that people with diabetes mellitus type 2 had an increased risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. This cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer and is responsible for 11% of fatalities due to cancer. There have been many observational studies done and across continents and all have come to a conclusion insulin resistance is one of the common risk factor for cancer[1].

The first link between diabetes mellitus and cancer was observed during a study done back in 1934. Again in 1991, an extensive research was carried out to get into more detail about the relationship between cancer and diabetes and this also yielded positive result. This article highlights some vital points about the link between type-2 diabetes and increased risk of liver cancer[1].

Does Having Type 2 Diabetes Increase The Risk Of Liver Cancer?

It has been well established that people with type 2 diabetes should have regular monitoring of their liver functions as they are at an increased risk of liver cancer. Studies have also confirmed that liver cancer in diabetics is diagnosed only after the disease has reached in its advanced stage. This makes the prognosis of the patient even poor[2]

Does Having Type 2 Diabetes Increase The Risk Of Liver Cancer?

The purpose of the study was to find an approximate estimation of the risk of liver cancer in people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This form of liver disease is extremely common and is on the rise over the past decade and has come closer to other common conditions like diabetes and obesity[2].

For many people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease there is no significant damage inflicted on the liver but for some people especially who are diabetic the damage is profound to such an extent that it results in liver cancer. This makes the diagnosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease at an early stage of paramount importance[2]

However, a study done at Queen Mary University in London has suggested that even today nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is not able to be diagnosed at an early stage.

This was based on the electronic health records of about 80 million people that were checked. The American Liver Foundation states that approximately 100 million people in the United States are affected by this form of liver disease[2].

On further analysis it was revealed that people who had a confirmed diagnosis of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease more than 30% of people had hypertension and obesity but majority of them had type 2 diabetes mellitus. On further studying the records of people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and diabetes it was revealed that most of these people went on to develop liver cancer. This made type 2 diabetes as the biggest predictor of liver disease[2]

In conclusion, people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus have been on the rise over the past decade. The reason behind this can be lifestyle factors or underlying medical conditions along with stress. However, various studies starting right from 1934 till as late as 2010 have all revealed an association of diabetes type 2 with increased risk for liver disease and liver cancer[1, 2]

An individual with baseline type 2 diabetes with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has 3.1 times higher risk of developing liver cancer than the normal population. The studies done ultimately proved that there is an undeniable link between type-2 diabetes and liver cancer[1, 2]


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Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 7, 2021

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