Liver Cancer


Nearly 60,000 Americans die of liver disease every year, and the incidence of liver cancer has been rising about 4 percent every year over the last decade.

Liver cancer is strongly associated with increasing blood cholesterol and epidemiological studies have shown that obese people have about a 450% greater risk of developing liver cancer.

In the documentary, Super Size Me, Morgan Spurlock ate exclusively at McDonald’s for a month. Not only did his weight, blood pressure and cholesterol go up, but so did his liver enzymes. Liver cancer is one of the most feared complications of chronic liver inflammation.

In a follow-up to that movie, Swedish researchers found that the trial participants who ate two fast-food meals a day, had liver function tests considered pathological after just one week.

NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) is associated with an intake of soft drinks and meat. It may also be caused by cholesterol overload. Cholesterol found in eggs, meat and dairy can become oxidized and then set off a chain reaction that results in excess fat in the liver.

In a thirteen-year study of nine thousand American adults, it was found that cholesterol consumption was a strong predictor of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Those consuming the amount of cholesterol found in two Egg McMuffins or more each day appeared to double their risk of hospitalization or death.

Liver dysfunction can run in families, like the iron-overload disease hemochromatosis. People with this hereditary disease absorb too much iron from their food. If enough iron builds up in the liver, it can lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Viral hepatitis is another cause of liver disease – hepatitis A, B, C, D, or E.

Hepatitis A is spread through food or water contaminated with feces, mainly by people who don’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. It can be prevented through vaccination or by avoiding raw and undercooked shellfish.

Hepatitis B is blood borne and is transmitted sexually. There is an effective vaccine for this and every child should get it.

Hepatitis D is a virus infection and can only occur in someone who is already infected with hepatitis B. To avoid this infection, get vaccinated and refrain from intravenous drug use and unsafe sex.

Hepatitis C is the most dreaded liver virus. There is no vaccine. Exposure can lead to a chronic infection that, over decades, can lead to cirrhosis (liver scarring) and liver failure. Don’t share needles, toothbrushes or razors.

Hepatitis E is now considered a zoonotic disease, able to spread from animals to humans, and pigs may be the primary reservoir. Experts suspect that much of the American population has been exposed to this virus. It appears that more people die of liver disease in countries where pork is popular.

Liver disease can stem from over-the-counter drugs such as Tylenol, from prescription drugs and even from many weight-loss and body building supplements. Researchers have been particularly surprised by the danger posed by green tea extract. These supplements are not the beverage made from brewing tea leaves in hot water. Instead, they are pills containing concentrated amounts of particular compounds found in green tea, according to the United States Pharmacopeia (USP), an organization that tests and reviews dietary supplements. Green tea extract is one of 15 supplement ingredients that Consumer Reports has said everyone should avoid.

According to the American Cancer Society, it is hard to find liver cancer early. In fact, there are no recommendations for liver cancer screening. If you go to your doctor when you first notice symptoms, your cancer might be diagnosed earlier, when treatment is most likely to be helpful.

Some of the most common symptoms of liver cancer according to the ACS are:

  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling very full after a small meal
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • An enlarged liver, felt as a mass under the ribs on the right side
  • An enlarged spleen, felt as a mass under the ribs on the left side
  • Pain in the abdomen or near the right shoulder blade
  • Swelling or fluid build-up in the abdomen
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)

What should you do if you have been diagnosed with liver cancer?

In addition to the medical treatment proposed by your physician, you will want to eliminate excess cholesterol, protein and calories from your diet. Eat plant-based foods and avoid the health dangers of consuming animal-based foods, including all types of meat, dairy and eggs.

In numerous laboratory experiments, rats with liver cancer were fed high-protein diets and then low-protein diets. Their liver cancer stopped growing while on the low-protein diet, but continued to grow and advance when they were fed the high-protein diet.

In a study done in 2014, it was found that refined grain consumption was associated with increased risk of NAFLD. So lay off the Wonder Bread and stick to truly wonderful whole-grain foods, including oatmeal. You will also want to make sure that you include plenty of greens and berries in your new diet as they offer protection against cancer, boost your immune system and guard your liver and brain. Dr. Michael Greger says, “shop for the reddest strawberries, the blackest of blackberries, the most scarlet tomato, the darkest green broccoli you can find. The colors make them the antiaging, anticancer antioxidants.”

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© 2010-2017 Melinda Coker

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Categories : Blog, Cancer

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