Study suggests diabetes plus hepatitis increases chances of liver cancer

6/10/2008

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands According to researchers at the Erasmus MC University Medical Center, diabetes doubles the risk of liver cancer in patients with chronic hepatitis C with advanced fibrosis, or cirrhosis.

The researchers studied 541 European and Canadian patients with chronic hepatitis C with advanced cirrhosis. Of those patients, 85 had diabetes and patients with more severe fibrosis were more likely to have diabetes.

“The prevalence of diabetes mellitus was 10.5 percent for patients with Ishak fibrosis score 4, 12.5 percent for Ishak-score 5 and 19.1 percent for Ishak-score 6,” the researchers wrote. The Ishak –score measures how strong the affliction is on the body, for example, significant fibrosis equals an Ishak score of 3 and cirrhosis equals an Ishak score of 5.

The patients were followed for about four years. During that time, 11 patients with diabetes and 27 patients without diabetes developed liver cancer. The five-year liver cancer occurrence rate was 11.4 percent and 5.0 percent, respectively. The study also found that males and older in age were significantly associated with increased risk of liver cancer.

Among patients with diabetes, there was a trend toward higher liver cancer risk as fasting glucose levels increased, which suggests that hyperinsulinemia, this is when type-2 or insulin resistance patients have excess levels of insulin are circulating in the blood, might explain the increased liver cancer risk among diabetic patients, the study authors suggested.

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