Alcohol use has links to several different cancers, including liver cancer. Research suggests it may contribute to liver cancer development in some people.
The number of people with liver cancer in the United States has more than tripled since 1980, while the death rate has more than doubled in the same time.
This article explores the links between alcohol and liver cancer, other possible causes, and ways to help prevent liver cancer.
A note about sex and gender
Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.
Many reputable organizations, including the ACS and the
However, the percentage of people who develop hepatocellular carcinoma from cirrhosis may be relatively low.
A person may benefit from speaking with a healthcare professional about reducing alcohol intake.
There are several potential causes and risk factors for liver cancer beyond alcohol use and cirrhosis. Though the following are often used interchangeably as either a risk factor or cause, experts are still
Some common risk factors
- having more weight
- having nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- smoking cigarettes
- having diabetes
- long-term hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus infection
- having obesity
- having hemochromatosis, a condition where the body absorbs and stores more iron than it needs
- consuming foods containing aflatoxin, which is a type of fungus that can grow on grains or nuts stored in certain conditions
Additionally, people of certain races and ethnicities in the U.S. may have a higher risk of developing liver cancer. The highest rates of liver cancer are among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, followed by:
- Hispanic Americans
- Latin Americans
- Native Americans
- Alaska Natives
- African Americans
- white Americans
People can take steps to help reduce their risks of developing liver cancer. Some ways a person may help prevent liver cancer
- preventing and treating hepatitis B and C infections
- limiting alcohol use or avoiding it altogether
- stopping or never starting smoking
- limiting exposure to potentially cancer-causing chemicals
- treating diseases that can lead to liver cancer, such as cirrhosis
- maintaining a moderate weight
Alcohol use may increase a person’s risk of developing liver cancer. Chronic and heavy use of alcohol can lead to alcoholic liver disease. This can cause cirrhosis, increasing an individual’s risk of developing liver cancer.
Other risk factors can also increase a person’s liver cancer risk.
Modifiable risk factors include avoiding infections that affect the liver, limiting exposure to cancer-causing chemicals, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a moderate weight.
People should speak with a healthcare professional if they are concerned about their alcohol intake or the likelihood of developing liver cancer. A doctor can provide further advice about how to limit alcohol consumption and prevent liver cancer.