A new study found that hepatitis C may not only increase the risk of liver cancer but also raise the risk of developing other cancers.

The study was presented at the European Association for the Study of the Liver’s 50th International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria.

Hepatitis C is a condition characterized by inflammation of the liver. The inflammation is a result from infection with the hepatitis C virus. In the U.S. about 3.2 million people have chronic HCV. However, 70-80% of these people are unaware that they are infected because the condition may not present any symptoms.

Hepatitis C is generally spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) asserts that most people are infected with HCV by sharing needles or other drug-injecting equipment.

HCV can also be spread through sexual contact with an infected person, although much less common. Finally HCV can be spread by sharing personal care items such as toothbrushes, razors, or being born to a mother with hepatitis C.

It is well established that infection with HCV can increase a person’s risk of liver cancer. The CDC asserts that 1-5 in every 100 people with HCV die from liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Liver cirrhosis is scarring of the liver tissue.

This recent study determined that HCV also increases cancer risk excluding liver cancer.

Researchers assessed all cancer diagnoses that had occurred among HCV and non-HCV patients aged 18 and older between 2008 and 2012.

The data showed that compared with patients without HCV, patients with HCV are at an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer and renal cancers.

Based on these findings, it was calculated that patients with HCV were 2.5 times more likely than non-HCV patients to be diagnosed with cancer, including liver cancer.

Gerry Oginski
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