Women with a history of hypothyroidism face a significantly higher risk of developing liver cancer, according to a new study. Hypothyroidism is the most common thyroid disorder among U.S. adults, affecting between 8 and 12 percent of the U.S. population, and more women than men. The condition can cause hyperlipidemia and weight gain and may play a role in the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis which can progress to more severe liver disease. Studies have also suggested a clinical association between hypothyroidism and hepatitis C, which is contributing to the country’s rising rate of liver cancer.
Researchers, led by Manal Hassan of Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas, designed a case-control study to better understand the association between hypothyroidism and the development of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), in the U.S.
Women who had a prior history of hypothyroidism for more than 10 years had a threefold higher risk of liver cancer compared to women without a history of thyroid disorders. Adjusting for obesity did not change the association.
“Whether and why hypothyroidism causes HCC is not clear,” the authors write. “However, the association between hypothyroidism and NASH can be explained by the underlying hyperlipidemia, decreased fatty acid oxidation insulin resistance and lipid peroxidation in patients with hypothyroidism.” And these conditions may make the patient susceptible to HCC development.
Source: Journal Reference: Association Between Hypothyroidism and Hepatocellular Carcinoma: USA Case-Control Study. Hepatology, May 2009
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