(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Danish researchers have established a link between childhood obesity and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in adults. The news is based on new data that was presented yesterday at the International Liver Congress 2012.

In the study, Danish researchers monitored birth weight and BMI at school age of 165,540 men and 160,883 women born between 1930 and 1989. Of those who returned for follow up, the study authors calculated and compared the risk of developing HCC from the 252 participants that had developed HCC at follow-up.

The researchers reported that, at age 7, the risk of developing HCC increased by 1.12 per unit of increase in BMI. By age 13, risk of developing HCC increased to 1.25 per unit.

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The researchers concluded: “As units of BMI increased into adulthood, so did the risk of developing HCC. This trend was consistently similar across the sexes and ages.”

Scientific Committee Member Dr. Frank Lammert of the European Association for Study of the Liver commented: “Childhood obesity not only leads to the development of many adverse metabolic conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease, but also fatty liver disease, which may subsequently result in liver cancer. The importance of maintaining a healthy childhood BMI cannot be underestimated. These alarming study results point to a potential correlation between childhood obesity and development of liver cancer in adulthood.”

Factors including alcoholic conditions, infection by hepatitis B and C, and the diagnosis other liver diseases, also contribute to risk of developing HCC. “Results did not change when participants with these comorbidities were removed from the study, indicating that childhood obesity was the major factor in the development of HCC.”

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