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Liver Cancer: Causes, Mechanisms, Risk Factors, and Prevention

Liver cancer is a serious health concern that occurs when liver cells divide uncontrollably, forming a malignant mass.

To better understand liver cancer, it’s essential to know its causes, the factors that contribute to its development, and possible prevention strategies. 

Watch Video Causes of  Liver  Cancer

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The Process of Cell Division and Cancer Formation

Cell division is a highly regulated process in our bodies, with cells receiving messages about when to divide, how to divide, and their specific functions.

Additionally, each cell has a predetermined life cycle encoded in its genetic information. Cancer develops when there is a disruption in this messaging system, causing cells to divide uncontrollably.

This unregulated growth eventually leads to the formation of a malignant tumor. The same process occurs in liver cancer, but it’s essential to examine the specific causes behind it.

Major Causes of Liver Cancer

There are three primary factors that contribute to liver cancer development:

  1. Hepatitis B
  2. Hepatitis C
  3. Alcoholism

All three of these factors cause inflammation in the liver, which disrupts normal cell function and leads to uncontrolled cell multiplication. This unregulated growth can ultimately result in cancer.

Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that can alter a cell’s DNA, turning a healthy cell into an abnormal one.

The more abnormal a cell becomes, the more cancerous it can be. At a certain point, this abnormal growth spirals out of control and manifests as cancer.

Alcoholism also contributes to liver cancer by causing damage to liver cells. As these cells attempt to repair themselves, they can undergo alterations that lead to uncontrolled multiplication.

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Role of Immune System in Cancer Development

Our body’s immune system is incredibly efficient at identifying and repairing abnormal cells. It can also destroy cells that are beyond repair. However, if a cell manages to bypass this defense mechanism, it can become cancerous.

Process of cancer development

Two key factors contribute to the development of cancer:

1. Cellular abnormality: When a cell’s DNA is altered, it becomes abnormal and prone to uncontrolled growth.

2. Bypassing the cell check mechanism: When a cell evades the immune system’s defenses, it can continue to divide and eventually form a malignant tumor.

Read More: How to Identify and Address Liver Cancer Early

Other Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

In addition to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and alcoholism, other factors can increase the risk of developing liver cancer:

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD):

This condition occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver, causing inflammation and damage.

Cirrhosis:

This is the scarring of the liver, which occurs due to chronic liver damage. Cirrhosis can result from various causes, including hepatitis and alcohol abuse.

Obesity:

Being overweight or obese increases the risk of liver cancer, as it can lead to fatty liver disease and inflammation.

Diabetes:

People with type 2 diabetes are at a higher risk of developing liver cancer, possibly due to the increased risk of fatty liver disease.

Aflatoxin exposure:

Consuming foods contaminated with aflatoxins, toxic substances produced by certain fungi, can increase the risk of liver cancer.

Read More: What Are the Stages of Liver Cancer?

Prevention Strategies

You can reduce your risk of liver cancer by adopting the following preventive measures:

  •   Get vaccinated against hepatitis B.
  •   Practice safe sex and avoid sharing needles to prevent hepatitis B and C transmission.
  •   Limit alcohol consumption to reduce the risk of liver damage.

Maintain a healthy weight and follow a balanced diet to prevent obesity and fatty liver disease.

Read More: The Latest Advances in Liver Cancer Treatment

Conclusion

Understanding the causes of liver cancer is crucial for both prevention and early detection.

Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and alcoholism are significant risk factors that can lead to liver inflammation and ultimately contribute to cancer development.

The immune system plays a critical role in identifying and repairing abnormal cells, but if a cell bypasses this mechanism, cancer can form.

We hope this blog has provided you with a clearer understanding of liver cancer and its causes.

If you have any doubts or concerns, please feel free to reach out to our experts for guidance and support

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    Dr. Praveen Kammar

    Surgical Oncologist

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    Dr. Praveen Kammar is a Best Surgical Oncologist in Mumbai. His main area of expertise aslso includes GI oncology, Gynecological cancers, minimal access surgeries, Robotics surgery, Laparoscopic Surgery, HIPEC.

    Dr. Praveen has done more than 6000+ surgeries in his expertise.

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