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Can fatty liver cause cancer?

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

The liver is one of the most important organs of the human body, as its multiple functions include the metabolization of fats during the digestion of food in the body, which makes it possible for these substances to be transported correctly to the intestine for later , be excreted from the body through feces. When the liver is not working properly it cannot fully process fats and begins to accumulate them, this is known as fatty liver or steatosis.

Fatty liver is usually an asymptomatic condition, which many times represents a health risk, since many people suffer from this disease and are unaware of it. Steatosis, although it is a controllable and totally reversible pathology, if it is not controlled in time and treated correctly, it can develop inflammation of the liver, non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis and other complications that completely compromise liver function. But can fatty liver cause cancer? In this FastlyHealarticle we answer this question.

Can fatty liver cause cancer?

Fatty liver, when it is not treated, medicated and controlled, represents one of the main risk factors for liver cancer . A risk factor is a variable that increases a person’s chances of suffering from a disease. There are risk factors such as smoking or fatty liver that are treatable and reversible, but there are also other factors such as family history and age that cannot be changed.

The risk factors depend and vary according to the disease, in the case of liver cancer, steatosis represents a very important risk, and it is that when nothing is done to eliminate excess fat from the liver, the amount of fat continues to increase , and this can compromise the health of the organ so much that it is capable of increasing its size and causing liver failure that, if not treated, in most cases triggers non-alcoholic cirrhosis. People with cirrhosis of the liver are at increased risk for liver cancer .

It is important to clarify that a risk factor does not mean that the person will contract the disease, generally, a combination of more than two risk factors and unhealthy habits or behaviors that can increase the risk is needed. For example, in the specific case of liver cancer, it is very important to take into account the eating habits and lifestyle of the person, since fatty liver is a condition derived mainly from a poor diet and a sedentary life. Obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes lead to altered levels of cholesterol in the blood, which worsens liver health.

So, we can’t say that fatty liver causes liver cancer, but we can’t deny it either. In conclusion, it is a very important risk factor that, when diagnosed, must be taken into account and must be treated at the moment, since it is a disease that we can cure and therefore it is a risk factor that we can eliminate . Untreated fatty liver does increase the risk of liver cancer.

Other risk factors for liver cancer are:


Hepatitis viruses are capable of infecting the liver, just as fatty liver can also lead to cirrhosis and are responsible for liver cancer being one of the leading causes of death in the world. Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are just as dangerous for liver health.


Damage to liver cells results from scarring of liver tissue, which is considered the most acute deterioration of this organ. Without a doubt, cirrhosis, alcoholic or nonalcoholic, is the most important risk factor for liver cancer.

Obesity and diabetes

Fatty liver can be a consequence of both conditions, as both obesity and diabetes increase the amount of fat that is deposited in the liver. For this reason, the two diseases have been considered risk factors for liver cancer.

Gender and age

The men are more prone to this disease that usually strikes people over 65 years old.

Environmental factors

Exposure to chemicals or the consumption of foods rich in toxins such as aflatoxin, increase the risk of contracting this type of cancer. Aflatoxin is a fungus that can grow on nuts and dried fruits.

What to do if I have a fatty liver?

As we mentioned earlier, fatty liver is a totally reversible disease, so changing some eating and lifestyle habits will be enough for the person to evolve and reduce the accumulation of fat in the organ. However, the first thing to do is learn to identify the presence of this silent disease, so it is important to mention the symptoms of fatty liver :

  • Fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sickness.
  • Pain in the upper right part of the abdomen.
  • Confusion.
  • Swelling in the legs and feet.
  • Heaviness after eating due to difficulty in digestion.
  • In the most serious cases, yellow skin and eyes.

Fatty liver treatment

Fatty liver must be approached from different approaches so that a complete treatment can be offered that can reverse the damage caused in this organ. The ideal treatment to treat this disease consists of:

  • Healthy nutrition.
  • Physical activity.
  • Control obesity or diabetes.
  • Decrease alcohol consumption.
  • In the following FastlyHealarticle you can find very complete and detailed information on how the treatment of fatty liver should be.

How to prevent fatty liver

Refrain from drinking alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most aggressive toxins for the liver, so it is essential that it be moderated, and if, as far as possible, the consumption of this substance is eliminated. If there is a family history of liver disease, use should be completely eradicated.

A good diet

Eating a balanced and healthy diet, low in fat and rich in vegetables and fruits, is the best way to regulate weight and prevent both obesity and fatty liver. If you already suffer from obesity, it is necessary that you put yourself in the hands of a specialist to design a suitable diet for you to lose weight in an orderly manner.

Eat a proper diet low in fat and rich in fruits and vegetables. Maintain an adequate weight and avoid obesity. If you have this condition, it is important to seek a nutrition professional and start a weight loss diet as soon as possible. In the following article you will find 5 recipes for fatty liver .

Fatty liver

The regular and daily practice of physical exercise helps to significantly reduce the chances of suffering from fatty liver, at the same time that it will offer you a better quality of life and will have a positive impact on all aspects of your health.

Perform physical exercise frequently as the activity significantly reduces the possibility of suffering from this condition.

Other aspects

There are more factors to take into account to prevent the appearance of fatty liver. One of them is self-medication , since this very harmful and widespread practice can seriously affect the liver, making it work more than necessary and saturating it with toxins.

Another aspect is diabetes or hypertension , because if you suffer from these diseases it is more likely that fatty liver will also appear. For this reason, if you suffer from either of these two diseases, it is highly recommended to visit the doctor to monitor the development of the liver organ.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Can fatty liver cause cancer? , we recommend that you enter our Digestive System category .

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