AACR Logo Metabolic syndrome already known to increase risk of heart disease and diabetes also seems to interfere with cancer. If this piece of information is to be believed, then metabolic syndrome raises the chances of being diagnosed with two most common types of liver cancer. Metabolic syndrome probably refers to the co-occurrence of at least three of five conditions, such as blood pressure, elevated waist circumference, low HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol, raised triglyceride levels and heightened fasting plasma glucose levels.

Patients with at least three of the above mention conditions apparently are under a severe threat of developing hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Even though the factors that increase the chances of liver cancer are not well understood, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity are presumably involved. At the time of the study, investigators evaluated 3,649 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma and 743 cases of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.

“The prognosis for liver cancer is only marginally better than the prognosis for pancreatic cancer, with a five-year survival of approximately 10 percent. Prognosis is more favorable, however, when liver cancers are diagnosed at early stages when they are small and localized to the liver,” added Katherine McGlynn, Ph.D., a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute.

The medical history of these patients was then compared with the medical histories of 195,953 cancer-free adults. Scientists found that liver cancer patients were significantly more likely than cancer-free persons to have a prior history of metabolic syndrome. Around 37.1 percent of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and 29.7 percent of patients with intrahepatic carcinoma allegedly had pre-existing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome was also registered in 29.7 percent of patients with intrahepatic carcinoma and 17.1 percent of the cancer-free adults.

The study was presented at the AACR 102nd Annual Meeting 2011, held from April 2 to 6.