Liver cancer

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Reducing your risk for liver cancer

You may lower your risk of developing liver cancer by doing the following.

Protect yourself against hepatitis infection

Chronic infection with hepatitis B or C virus increases the risk for liver cancer. You can reduce your risk of hepatitis infection by doing the following:

  • Get vaccinated against the hepatitis B virus. (There isn’t a vaccine for hepatitis C.)
  • Practise safer sex by using a condom and avoiding blood-to-blood contact during sex.
  • Don’t share needles or other drug-use equipment. If you use intravenous drugs, participate in a needle exchange program.
  • Wear latex gloves when you come into contact with someone else’s blood.
  • Make sure that all equipment is clean and sterile when you get a tattoo, body piercing or acupuncture. Needles should always be new, not used. They should never be homemade.

Canadian Blood Services tests every blood donation for hepatitis B and C viruses. Since only blood that passes these tests is used, the risk of contracting hepatitis through a blood transfusion in Canada is very low.

Get treated for hepatitis infection

If you have a hepatitis infection, treatment is an important part of lowering your risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Many people do not know that they have a hepatitis infection. People who have a high risk for developing hepatitis B and C, such as those who share needles, should be tested regularly so they can begin treatment if they have either infection.

Limit the amount of alcohol you drink

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis increases the risk of developing liver cancer.

If you have hepatitis or other forms of liver disease, you may want to drink less alcohol or avoid it altogether.

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing liver cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, keep it to less than 1 drink a day for women and less than 2 drinks a day for men. The less you drink, the lower your risk.

Be a non-smoker and avoid second-hand smoke

Smoking increases the risk of developing liver cancer. If you smoke, get help to quit.

Maintain a healthy body weight

Research shows that being obese increases your risk for liver cancer. You can lower your risk by having a healthy body weight. Eating well and being physically active can help you have a healthy body weight.

Avoid exposure to harmful substances in the workplace

Workers in certain industries may be exposed to harmful substances, such as vinyl chloride and plutonium, which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. Follow occupational health and safety standards if you work in an industry that processes, stores, transports or uses any cancer-causing substances.

Find out if you’re at high risk for liver cancer

Some people can have a higher than average risk for liver cancer. Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need to visit your doctor more often to check for liver cancer.

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