Diabetic patients run three times the risk of developing liver cancer

Diabetic patients run three times the risk of developing liver cancer, suggests a large US study in Gut.

The researchers trawled a surveillance database used for patients in receipt of Medicare funding for health care, to identify patients aged 65 and older, who had been diagnosed with liver cancer.

They found 2061 patients with liver cancer on records spanning the five years between 1994 and 1999. They also randomly selected more than 6,000 other similarly aged patients from the database, who had not been diagnosed with cancer.

They checked the claims records for known risk factors for liver cancer, including hepatitis C and B viral infections, alcoholic liver disease, and haemochromatosis (poor absorption and storage of iron). They also checked the claims records for diabetes.

Compared with patients who did not have the disease, those with liver cancer were around twice as likely to be male and of non-white ethnicity. And the proportion of patients with diabetes was almost twice as high among those with liver cancer.

After taking into account, demographics and other major risk factors, diabetes almost tripled the risk of liver cancer. But the findings also suggest that hepatitis C could also interact with diabetes to further boost the risk of developing liver cancer.

The authors suggest that diabetes might be an independent risk factor for liver cancer, rates of which have increased significantly in the US in recent years.

Contact: Dr Hashem El-Serag, Houston Veteran Affairs Medical Center, Houston, Texas, USA Tel: +1 713 794 8614 Email: [email protected]

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