Prevention of Liver Cancer

Learning how the liver functions is essential in understanding how to prevent primary liver cancer, since maintaining a healthy liver may prevent cancer from occurring in the first place.

The liver is vulnerable to many substances, since one of its main functions is to process and detoxify the body from foreign substances. Among these are prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal remedies, dietary supplements, alcohol, chemicals, and food and drink choices.

  1. Self-medicating can be harmful to the liver since liver cancer grows mainly on damaged livers. It is important to consult a clinician before taking medications or dietary supplements.
  2. Alcohol damages the liver regardless of what kind; it is the quantity that counts. Alcohol consumption can cause cirrhosis and scarring, which are precursors of liver cancer.
  3. Chronic hepatitis B and C can also be precursors of liver cancer; therefore, avoiding getting the disease is of the essence as a preventative measure. Hepatitis B and C are viruses that cause liver disease. They are transmitted via direct contact with blood products, sharing needles, and during sexual intercourse. There are vaccines that can help prevent hepatitis B and C. Safer sex is also fundamental in preventing contact with hepatitis B and C, as is not sharing needles.
  4. Chemicals that come in contact with the body can also be carcinogenic to the liver; it is therefore important to avoid exposure to them. Making sure rooms are well-ventilated when painting and wearing gloves when handling cleaning products are both important ways to prevent liver disease causing liver cancer. People exposed to cancer-causing chemicals have a higher incidence of liver cancer. However, the studies performed so far have only established an important correlation, not a direct cause and effect. [1] Those working in the oil industry and those exposed to solvents and other chemicals have a higher incidence of cirrhosis, causing liver cancer.

[1] Cicalese, Luca et al. “Hazardous Air Pollutants and Primary Liver Cancer in Texas.” Ed. Sheng-Nan Lu. PLoS ONE 12.10 (2017): e0185610. PMC. Web. 10 Jan. 2018.