The 5 best ways to lower your risk of liver cancer, according to doctors

Liver cancer can be difficult to catch in its early stages. Symptoms can be varied, extremely subtle, and seemingly unrelated to your liver health. To make matters even trickier, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reports that there is no screening tests widely recommended for people at average risk of liver cancer. Additionally, “Small liver tumors are difficult to detect during a physical exam, as most of the liver is covered by the right rib cage,” the site warns. “By the time a tumor can be felt, it can already be quite large.

The World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF) reports that liver cancer is the 6th most common cancer worldwide. “There were 900,000 new cases of liver cancer in 2020,” says WCRF. Read on to find out how you can reduce your risk of liver cancer.

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Many people don’t realize that hepatitis B is the most common risk factor for liver cancer. “Getting vaccinated against hepatitis B is very important,” explains Anthony Shieldsdoctor, a gastrointestinal oncologist with the Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. “Many people are now vaccinated and the incidence of liver cancer due to hepatitis B has dropped significantly,” he said, adding that “hepatitis C is also a risk factor, but we have currently have oral curative drugs that will help cure this type of hepatitis and thus reduce the risk of liver cancer.”

How does hepatitis B lead to liver cancer? The newspaper Nature explains that the growing infection damages the liver “as long as the virus is active.” “The liver tissue thickens and forms scars (fibrosis), progressing to severe scarring called cirrhosis”, Nature said. “In about a third of people infected with hepatitis B, this then progresses to hepatocellular carcinoma, as viral DNA inserts into liver cells, changing their function and allowing tumors to grow.”

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“Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to cirrhosis and is a common cause of liver cancer,” says Shields. “Drinking in moderation, or even better, abstaining from alcohol, will decrease the risk of liver cancer.”

Liver cancer isn’t the only potential consequence of indulging. “Alcohol consumption is one of the most important preventable risk factors for canceras well as tobacco use and excess weight,” reports the ACS. “Alcohol consumption accounts for approximately 6% of all cancers and 4% of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Woman holding a lit cigarette in her hand with an ashtray.
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“Most people don’t recognize that smoking increases the risk of lung cancer, but also of many other cancers, including liver cancer,” advises Shields. Although smoking is actually the number one risk factor for lung cancer, it “also causes various side effects on organs that do not have direct contact with the smoke itself such as the liver,” according to an article published by the National Library of Medicine. “It induces three major adverse effects on the liver: direct or indirect toxic effects, immunological effects and oncogenic effects. effects.”

Not smoking is a lifestyle choice that can affect your health in many ways. “Smoking is the leading preventable cause of cancer and cancer deaths“, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “Based on current evidenceit can cause cancers of the mouth and throat, voice box, esophagus, stomach, kidneys, pancreas, liver, bladder, cervix, colon and rectum, as well as a type of leukemia (acute myeloid leukemia).”

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“Unfortunately, you can get very early liver cancer. without any symptoms“, advises the Cleveland Clinic. Pay attention to potential warning signs and discuss them with your doctor, especially if you are at risk for liver cancer.

“Certainly, a sallow or sallow complexion can be a warning sign,” says Shields. “Sometimes symptoms of liver cancer can manifest as pain in the upper right part of the abdomen, or sometimes that pain is localized in the right shoulder,” he says. “Another symptom that may be associated with liver cancer is rapid, unexplained weight loss, but it may be associated with many cancers, not just liver cancer.” Shields advises that these symptoms can all be signs of other conditions and should be brought to the attention of your GP.

Man enjoying a cup of coffee.
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Many foods can support good liver health, and some of them might surprise you. Studies have shown that drinking two cups of coffee a day can reduce your risk of liver cancer; the components of coffee act as protection for your liver. According to Healthline, other liver healthy foods are grapefruit rich in antioxidants; other fruits like blueberries, cranberries, grapes and prickly pears; and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts, which “may help increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes, protect it from damage, and improve blood levels of liver enzymes,” the site states.

“Foods containing fiber can help your liver function at its best,” says WebMD, warning that fatty foods and snacks containing sugar and salt are Foods to Avoid. “Next time you feel the vending machine calling, opt for a healthy snack instead,” the site suggests. “Cutting down is a relatively easy diet modification with a little planning.”

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