Preventing Liver Cancer
5 Ways to Prevent Liver Cancer
Liver cancer is a frightening disease, but a little bit of prevention can go a long way in ensuring you don’t develop this condition. While you can’t always control whether or not you get cancer – for instance, sometimes people develop cancer because of their genetics – a healthy lifestyle can help you live a long and cancer-free life. Here are five ways you can cut down your odds of developing liver cancer during your lifetime.
1. Protect yourself from hepatitis B and C.
Hepatitis infections are one of the main risk factors for developing liver cancer. If you have not been vaccinated against hepatitis B already, get the vaccination now. No vaccination exists for hepatitis C, but you can cut down on your odds of contraccting it by practicing safe sex, not using IV drugs, and avoiding tattoo parlors unless you are sure they have good safety and sterilization practices.
If you already have hepatitis B or C, visit your doctor regularly to manage the condition. Medications that limit the disease’s damage are available, and regular screenings can help you catch any liver problems before they become difficult to treat.
2. Avoid drinking excessively.
Heavy drinking is a major factor in developing cirrhosis of the liver, which can lead to liver cancer. While an occasional drink is probably fine, it’s smart to limit your alcohol intake for your overall health, especially if you have other risk factors for liver cancer. A general rule of thumb is that men should not have more than two drinks per day, while women should limit themselves to one. If you’re worried about your liver health, it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether.
3. Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese raises your odds of getting many diseases, including some kinds of cancer. In addition, obesity can cause non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a disease that often leads to cirrhosis, liver cancer, or liver failure. Reduce your chances of developing NAFLD by eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical exercise, and maintaining a BMI between 18.5 and 24.9.
4. Avoid chemicals that are associated with liver cancer.
Exposure to certain chemicals can damage your liver, making you more likely to get liver cancer. It’s important to avoid arsenic in particular, since ingestion of this chemical is strongly correlated with the development of liver cancer. Aflatoxins, which are toxins that occur in improperly stored grain, can also cause liver cancer. It’s especially important to be aware of these risk factors if you live outside the US, where safety regulations may not be as rigorous.
5. Stay away from tobacco.
One more reason why smoking is bad for you: it increases your chance of getting liver cancer, as well as many other types of cancer and other diseases. If you currently smoke, quit as soon as you can. Not only will you cut down your odds of getting liver cancer, but you’ll also improve your overall health dramatically.
While liver cancer is sometimes caused by factors out of our control, such as genes, the biggest culprits – hepatitis infection, weight, and consumption of tobacco and alcohol – are all controllable to a degree. If you follow these five guidelines, you’ll reduce your odds of developing liver cancer dramatically.