As if we didn’t have enough to worry about with the never ending tide of serious issues linked to the obesity epidemic… Along comes a new study that shows weight gain significantly increases risk of liver cancer.
Not too long ago, liver cancer wasn’t even seen as that big of a deal in the U.S. We were far more concerned with breast and lung cancer. But rates of liver cancer have tripled in the United States since the 1970s.
Final statistics aren’t in yet, but almost 40,000 new cases of liver cancer were expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2016 alone.
And liver cancer is a notoriously merciless disease. Only 44 percent of those who have it will be alive a year from diagnosis. At five years, that number plummets to 17 percent.
The reason liver cancer is so deadly is because its symptoms are usually vague. Which means that by the time it’s diagnosed, it’s often too late to be treated effectively.
That’s why prevention is key. And the key to prevention is to target risk factors, which include heavy drinking, tobacco use, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver — and weight.
But you don’t need to have a lifelong history of obesity to find yourself in the danger zone. As this recent study shows, even incremental weight gain — especially around the abdomen — can have a serious impact on liver cancer risk.
The study, which was published in the journal Cancer Research, found that every 2-inch increase in waist circumference comes with an 8 percent increased risk of liver cancer.
Overall weight gain is a major concern too. In fact, the study found that for every 5-point increase in body mass index (BMI), the risk of liver cancer shot up by 38 percent for men and 25 percent for women.
The study also found that people with type 2 diabetes were more than two and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer than those without it. And as you know, type 2 diabetes is directly linked to obesity.
Of course, another major cause of liver cancer is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In fact, studies show that people with NAFLD have a risk of liver cancer that is 4 times higher than people without this condition. And, with obesity and type 2 diabetes as the primary risk factors, 1 in 5 Americans are already in early stages of NAFLD.
The common denominator among ALL of these liver cancer risk factors? Weight gain.
Now be honest with yourself: Have you added 2 inches (or more) to your waistline over the years? Have you watched your BMI climb year after year? If so, you’ve significantly upped your chances of getting liver cancer.
The good news, of course, is that any weight you’ve gained can be lost again.
The first step? Kick your sugar habit. I know I sound like a broken record here, but it’s so important that I’m going to keep on saying it. Sugar kills.
And now we can add liver cancer to the long list of diseases directly related to it.
So if you ever find yourself falling into the trap of thinking that a few extra pounds never hurt anyone, I want you to remember this study. And before you sink your teeth into that Twinkie…or donut…or blueberry muffin, ask yourself: Is it worth the risk?