Every 5cm increase in a person’s waistline increases their risk of liver cancer by almost 10%, a new study has found.
Roughly 5,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with liver cancer every year, according to Cancer Research UK.
Symptoms of liver cancer are often vague and do not appear until the cancer is at an advanced stage. They can include: unintentional weight loss, loss of appetite, feeling very full after eating (even if the meal was small), feeling sick and vomiting, pain or swelling in your abdomen, jaundice, itchy skin and feeling very tired and weak.
“The prognosis for patients diagnosed with this type of cancer is especially grim,” said Peter Campbell, strategic director of Digestive System Cancer Research at the American Cancer Society and lead author of the new study.
Campbell and his team studied whether obesity, as measured by BMI, waist circumference and Type 2 diabetes mellitus - an obesity-related disease - were associated with liver cancer risk in a combined sample of adults from 14 different studies.
They pooled data from 1.57 million adults who had completed questionnaires related to their height, weight, alcohol intake and tobacco use. None of them had cancer at the time of enrolment.
Type 2 diabetes mellitus was diagnosed in 6.5% of the study participants and, over time, 2,162 developed liver cancer.
Researchers found that participants with Type 2 diabetes mellitus were twice as likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer.
“This adds substantial support to liver cancer being on the list of obesity-associated cancers,” said Campbell.
“This is yet another reason to maintain a body weight in the ‘normal’ range for your height.”