In many articles on our website, we have demonstrated the numerous studies that suggest that not only is chronic inflammation a heart disease risk, but it is also a risk for the development and progression of cancer. In fact, this connection between inflammation and cancer has, and is, spurring an incredible amount of recent research into how lowing inflammatory markers in the blood can reduce cancer risk.
Pre-existing liver disorders that lead to cancer
Many liver cancers develop as a result of an underlying liver disease such as hepatitis B or C virus, or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Many people with liver disorders also suffer from cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. These disorders lead to increase risk of Hepatocellular carcinoma, the most common of primary liver cancers. Research has shown that reducing dietary inflammation may be a way to restore liver health and reduce liver cancer risk.
A well cited and noted 2016 study published in the Annual review of medicine (1) reported:
The burden of hepatocellular carcinoma is steadily growing because obesity, type 2 diabetes, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are replacing viral- and alcohol-related liver disease as major pathogenic promoters. The hepatocellular carcinoma risk connected to metabolic factors has been underestimated so far, and a poorer surveillance has prevented an adequate treatment.
The findings of the above study make these key suggestions: High-grade and low-grade inflammation in the liver can cause tumor development. Tumor development is fed by artificial additives, bad bacteria in the gut, and the development of Metabolic Syndrome, (high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure). Further, these are conditions that can be managed and reversed with proper diet.
Is diet the only way to reduce chronic inflammation and reduce cancer risk? How about NSAIDs?
In the research there are many ways proposed to lowering inflammation. Recently doctors began exploring the use of Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) as a preventative cancer treatment. Here is a 2019 paper (2) that explains how these drugs may reduce cancer risk and the drawbacks and side-effect risks of taking these drugs.
“Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, these drugs (NSAIDs) have been investigated for their anticancer effects in numerous studies. This is because chronic inflammation has long been linked to carcinogenesis. As such, anti-inflammatory drugs are believed to play a role in cancer treatment and prevention. In the past few decades, research has shown that NSAIDs may decrease the risk of certain types of cancer. However, there is also a growing body of research that proves the contrary. Furthermore, NSAIDs are well known for many side effects, including some life-threatening ones.”
Because of the related risks with NSAIDs, other researchers took to exploring the idea of reducing inflammation through dietary modification. Diet modification would be safer and a lifestyle change as opposed to medication dosage would be seen as a more successful long-term program.
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate the research and science that suggests dietary modification can reduce liver cancer risk and that a lifestyle modification program would need to be developed beyond the simple inclusion or exclusion of certain foods. Because there a countless articles on the internet that explains which foods are highly pro-inflammatory with varying lists of foods, we will suggest this short and obvious list of foods documented to have carcinogenesis effect and impact on obesity and metabolic syndrome disorders.
Foods with excess sugar.
Foods heavy in refined or processed carbohydrates, such as baked goods.
Red and processed meats.
Yes there are more foods for this list, this is a simple overview. Now what about the good foods and a good diet plan? Let’s get to the research.
Inflammatory foods and liver cancer
A March 2020 study (3) in the International journal of cancer suggests: “Chronic inflammation plays an important role in primary liver cancer etiology, and can be influenced by dietary habits. Overall, a more pro-inflammatory diet, as suggested by higher DII (Dietary Inflammatory Index) scores, is associated with higher risks of primary liver cancer incidence and mortality. These findings indicate that encouraging intake of more anti-inflammatory dietary components and reducing intake of pro-inflammatory components represent an attractive strategy to reduce primary liver cancer incidence and mortality.”
Magnesium based foods reduce inflammation and risks for primary liver cancer
A February 2020 study (4) also in the International journal of cancer and from the same research group suggests: “. . . findings support that increasing the consumption of foods rich in magnesium may be beneficial in reducing primary liver cancer incidence and mortality.” Leading this group is the dark leafy vegetables.
Change in diet linked to reduced Hepatocellular carcinoma risk
In 2017, noted liver disease researcher Lemonica Koumbi wrote in the World journal of hepatology:(5) “Hepatocellular carcinoma is the third leading cause of cancer mortality. Evidence shows that diet relates to Hepatocellular carcinoma risk and may also have a protective role. Several dietary factors such as vegetables, cereals, fruits, white meat and fish have been found to be inversely associated with Hepatocellular carcinoma risk, whereas a positive correlation has been found with red meat and dietary sugar intakes. The increasing Hepatocellular carcinoma incidence makes its prevention an urgent matter and diet intervention represent an attractive potential.
At the Magaziner Center
Diet and reducing chronic inflammation as a means to reduce liver cancer risk has been shown in the research to be effective strategies in treating liver disorders. If you have liver disease or a family history of liver cancer and would like to explore our programs focused on reducing inflammation and enhancing cellular immune response please contact our office so we can start a conversation with you.
1 Marengo A, Rosso C, Bugianesi E. Liver Cancer: Connections with Obesity, Fatty Liver, and Cirrhosis. Annu Rev Med. 2016;67:103–117. doi:10.1146/annurev-med-090514-013832
2 Wong RSY. Role of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) in Cancer Prevention and Cancer Promotion. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2019 Jan 31;2019:3418975. doi: 10.1155/2019/3418975. PMID: 30838040; PMCID: PMC6374867.
3 Zhong GC, Wang K, Peng Y, et al. Dietary inflammatory index and incidence of and death from primary liver cancer: a prospective study of 103902 American adults [published online ahead of print, 2020 Mar 6]. Int J Cancer. 2020;10.1002/ijc.32954. doi:10.1002/ijc.32954
4 Zhong GC, Peng Y, Wang K, et al. Magnesium intake and primary liver cancer incidence and mortality in the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 27]. Int J Cancer. 2020;10.1002/ijc.32939. doi:10.1002/ijc.32939
5 Koumbi L. Dietary factors can protect against liver cancer development. World J Hepatol. 2017 Jan 28;9(3):119-125. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v9.i3.119. PMID: 28217247; PMCID: PMC5295144.