Diabetes may raise the risk of the most common form of liver cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of Southern California found a two- to three-fold higher risk for hepatocellular carcinoma among people with diabetes, with the association being particularly strong for Latinos. The association was next highest for native Hawaiians, African-Americans and Japanese-Americans.
The findings were presented at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; because they have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, they should be regarded as preliminary.
Data from more than 150,000 people who were part of the Multiethnic Cohort Study between 1993 and 1996 was examined for the study. After 15 years, researchers identified 506 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma. Some races experienced higher numbers of hepatocellular carcinoma cases than others; 158 Japanese-Americans, 33 native Hawaiians, 81 African-Americans, 175 Latinos, and 59 non-Hispanic whites developed the cancer over the 15-year period.
Latinos faced the highest risk of developing the cancer, compared with non-Hispanic whites, with a 2.77 times higher risk. Native Hawaiians faced the next highest risk -- 2.48 times higher -- followed by African-Americans, at 2.16 times higher, and Japanese-Americans, at 2.07 times higher.
Then, researchers looked at how a diagnosis of diabetes was associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. They found that risk of developing the cancer if you had diabetes was 3.3-fold higher for Latinos, 2.33-fold higher for Hawaiians, 2.02-fold higher for both Japanese-Americans and African-Americans, and 2.17-fold higher for non-Hispanic whites.
In other words, diabetes was responsible for 26 percent of hepatocellular carcinoma cases in Latinos, 20 percent of cases in Hawaiians, 13 percent of cases in African-Americans, 12 percent of cases in Japanese-Americans, and 6 percent of cases in non-Hispanic whites.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other known risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic hepatitis B or C infection, inherited liver disease, cirrhosis, obesity, drinking too much alcohol and being exposed to aflatoxins.