Causes of Liver Cancer

Causes of Liver Cancer

What Are the Causes of Liver Cancer?

When you’re diagnosed with liver cancer, you often face a variety of feelings, from sadness to anger. While your initial feelings are often overwhelming, you may also be wondering what exactly caused you to get liver cancer. Experts are familiar with the cause of many types of cancer, but liver cancer isn’t one of them. By learning more about the causes of liver cancer and what puts you at risk for developing this form of cancer, you can better understand what you’re going through.

The Cause of Liver Cancer

As mentioned, most forms of cancer are known to occur because of a cause, but liver cancer isn’t one of them. Actually, experts are unsure of what causes liver cancer, but there are certain risk factors that seem to be connected to the development of this disease. An example given is the hepatitis virus, which is linked to the development of liver cancer.

While the exact cause of liver cancer is unknown, it is clear how liver cancer occurs within the body. When you develop liver cancer, there are changes to the body’s DNA. The DNA is subjected to mutations, which leads to abnormal cell growth. The cells affected by the mutations can grow quite large, resulting in a cancerous tumor.

Risk Factors

As mentioned, certain risk factors can put you at a higher rate for developing liver cancer. Some of the risk factors include:

  • Infection for HBV or HCV virus that is chronic
  • Cirrhosis – a condition that is progressive in manner and irreversible, leading to the formation of scar tissue that forms within the liver.
  • Specific hereditary liver diseases – Diseases of the liver are known to increase the risk of liver cancer. The two diseases known to have a direct link include hemochromatosis and Wilson’s disease.
  • Fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic) – When fat gathers within the liver, it causes an increased chance of developing liver cancer.
  • Diabetes – Studies show that those with diabetes have a greater chance of developing liver cancer than those without it
  • Aflatoxin exposure – When crops are poorly grown, they develop something called aflatoxins, which can cause a breakdown of the immune system, and a known link to increased exposure to liver cancer.
  • Alcoholism or excessive consumption of alcohol – When more than a moderate of alcohol is consumed over several years’ time, it can cause damage to the liver, which works to increase your chances of developing liver cancer.
  • Obesity factor – Being severely overweight is linked to higher strain on the liver, and an increased chance of developing liver cancer.


While some of the risk factors above are unavoidable, others can be avoided. It’s important that you change lifestyle habits and incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your life in order to reduce your risk and live a long and healthy life.



Mayo Clinic (Liver Cancer Risk Factors)

Amy ManleyAmy Manley

Amy Manley is a certified medical writer through the American Medical Writers Association. She has a Bachelor's degree in English and writes to help educate people on various health conditions and how to cope with them.

Jan 21, 2015
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