LIFESTYLE & COMMUNITY
Liver Cancer: 6 Tips To Lower The Chances Of Developing It
Liver cancer is the third most common type of cancer in the world. It is responsible for more than 800,000 deaths per year making it the second leading cause of death from cancer. It is imperative that we as a society do whatever needs to be done to prevent this terrible illness.
Viral infections are the leading cause of liver cancer today with hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) being the main culprits. Both of these viruses represent infectious diseases which means they can be either contained or vaccinated against.
Cirrhosis, mainly induced by alcohol consumption, can lead to liver cancer. Namely, hepatocellular carcinoma can form from a tumor in the scar tissue left by cirrhosis.
Aflatoxins are a group of chemical carcinogens found in fungi Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Eating contaminated food leads these poisonous chemicals straight to the liver with catastrophic consequences. Aflatoxin poisoning is prevalent in southeast Asia and Africa where the food preparation hygiene is still at a low level.
Obesity, diabetes, and smoking have all been linked as direct causes for the formation of cancerous cells inside the liver. Unfortunately, genetics and hereditary illnesses play a significant part in cancer and as such cannot be avoided.
Reducing the risks.
Reducing the risks does not mean being 100% safe from getting cancer, but in the battle against this modern plague, every bit of percentage is crucial.
1. Hepatitis B virus prevention
Becuase Hepatitis B is a direct cause of liver cancer it is vital to know how to avoid contracting the virus, namely, how to tell if you are in the risk group. Center for Disease Control has named the following risk factors for Hepatitis B:
- having sex with someone who is infected;
- having multiple sex partners;
- drug use (through needles);
- living with a person who has chronic HBV;
- traveling to countries where many people have HBV;
- job-related exposures;
- getting long-term hemodialysis.
Since the 1980’s, there is a vaccine you should take if you are in of the risk groups. Furthermore, if you are already infected there are medications that even though they can’t cure the disease can minimalize liver damage thus reducing the chances of cancer.
2. Hepatitis C virus prevention
Although there is no vaccine for HCV, medical treatment can eliminate the virus in patients suffering from chronic Hepatitis C. Therefore, CDC highly recommends testing if any of the following risk factors can be applied to you:
- persons born between 1945 and 1965 (statistics show that most of the patients were born in this period);
- injecting drugs (even just once or a long time ago);
- a person has needed medicine for a blood clotting problem before 1987;
- a person received a blood transfusion or organ transplant before July 1992 (HCV wasn’t screened before that);
- long-term hemodialysis;
- HIV infection.
3. Avoiding cigarettes and alcohol.
Drinking alcohol lead to cirrhosis which in turn can make way for liver cancer. Drinking moderately is still okay, but people who drink more than three alcoholic drinks per day are at an alarming risk of developing cancer. Quitting smoking can prevent many types of cancer. It is advisable to quit altogether since the causation with liver cancer has been confirmed.
4. Staying fit.
Obesity can be the underlying cause of diabetes and many types of cancer including colon cancer. Fatty liver disease and diabetes are among the top reasons for developing liver cancer. Also, keeping fit will improve your metabolism, immune system, and the overall heart health.
5. Reducing exposure to carcinogens.
Unproperly stored grain in tropical areas can produce aflatoxins, so be very careful if you plan on traveling to these parts of the world. Fortunately, developed countries, such as the US have regulations that ensure the safety of food consumption. Also, if your job requires contact with cancerogenic chemicals such as Arsenic, you should, at all times, follow the procedures and regulations to minimize the risks.
6. Treatments for hereditary diseases
Finding and treating diseases that can be or produce an underlying cause of cancer, should be done as soon as possible. Certain illnesses, if discovered early on in life, can be contained thus reducing the risks substantially. For example, inducing diet control in patients with hemochromatosis can lower their iron intake and subsequently the risk of developing liver cancer.
Note that if you feel you are among the groups with high risk of liver cancer or any of the underlying causes, you should schedule an appointment with your physician and get tested.
This article is purely for informational purposes. Do not self-medicate, and in all cases consult a certified healthcare professional before using any information presented in the article. The editorial board does not guarantee any results and does not bear any responsibility for harm that may result from using the information stated in the article.