Hypothyroidism Associated with Liver Cancer

May 6, 2009

A study has found that �women with a history of hypothyroidism face a significantly higher risk of developing liver cancer.�

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has found that “women with a history of hypothyroidism face a significantly higher risk of developing liver cancer,” also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

The case-control study, led by Manal Hassan, MD, PhD, included 420 patients with liver cancer and 1,104 people without liver cancer as controls. Participants provided their demographic background, history of thyroid conditions and obesity, and information on their liver cancer risk factors, such as smoking, family cancer history, and alcohol consumption. They also were given blood tests to check for hepatitis B and hepatitis C.

Researchers found that about “15 percent of the liver cancer patients had a history of thyroid disease, compared to about 12 percent of the healthy controls. Subjects with a history of hypothyroidism had twice the risk of liver cancer; however the relationship was only significant for females.”

The study also found that women with a history of hypothyroidism of over 10 years had a three times higher risk of developing liver cancer than those without a history of thyroid disorders, and this association did not change when adjusting for obesity.

“Whether and why hypothyroidism causes HCC is not clear,” the authors concluded. “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… Further studies among different populations are warranted to confirm the association between hypothyroidism and HCC and to identify the underlying biological mechanisms and the genetic predisposition factors that may contribute to susceptibility to HCC development in the presence of thyroid disorders.”