Liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is a malignant tumor that originates primarily from liver cells (hepatocytes). It usually develops in the context of chronic liver disease, so the main risk groups include those with cirrhosis. Especially in cases caused by the hepatitis B and C viruses, and by excessive alcohol consumption. Preventing or treating such situations can reduce the chances of developing the disease. In those cases where cirrhosis is already established and this is no longer possible, the constant monitoring of cases, by specialists, with laboratory and imaging tests, can provide an earlier diagnosis and increase the rates of cure of the disease, which if advanced has a poor prognosis.
The pancreas is an organ adjacent to the liver and produces, in addition to hormones, enzymes that, together with the liver bile, actively participate in the food digestion process. Although they complement each other, they are somewhat independent, from a functional point of view. Thus, the literature does not draw a direct relationship between the problems that affect the pancreas and the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma.
What does occur in the case of pancreatitis is that one of its main causes is common to cirrhosis. Alcoholic patients, during their alcoholic lives, promote continuous damage to their pancreas and liver. In some cases, they become irreparable and evolve into chronic pancreatitis and cirrhosis, respectively. In both cases, due to the persistent inflammation, the risk of initiating a primary malignancy becomes greater, hence the confusion as to the association between one disease and the other.
However, there is a pancreatic disease that has a strong relationship with the liver. To better understand this, it is important to clarify the concept of cancer metastatic to the liver. In this situation, which is actually the most common, the malignant tumor that settles in the organ does not arise from hepatocytes, as in hepatocellular cancer. It comes from cells in other parts of the body, such as the breast, kidney, or lung, for example. In pancreatic cancer, there is a very close correspondence between the presence of a pancreatic mass (primary tumor) and liver involvement by metastases (secondary tumor). The liver is one of the preferred nesting sites for pancreatic cancer cells.
Alcohol is a toxin that has deleterious effects on the liver. The vast majority of people are exposed to alcohol only sporadically, and in the course of their lives are unlikely to experience problems with it. However, others abuse ethanol, which puts their health at serious risk.
As alcohol is processed by the liver, it releases free radicals responsible for hepatocyte damage. When this occurs routinely, at some point the body loses the ability to recover from this aggression. Then persistent and persistent chronic inflammation leads to liver fibrosis, a process known as cirrhosis. Normally, this condition, besides bringing great complications to the patient’s life, also strongly predisposes to the appearance of liver cancer.
In fact, there is no way to predict the sensitivity of each individual to alcohol. Some people are able to easily overcome the lesions induced by alcohol, and no matter how much they consume indiscriminately, they will never suffer major liver consequences. On the other hand, others are constitutionally more fragile and, with consumption considered only moderate, can develop severe hepatic steatosis, alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and cancer. In general, studies establish that 35 to 70 grams of alcohol per day would already be sufficient doses to cause irreparable sequels in the long term. In practical terms, this corresponds to an average of 7 to 13 drinks per week for sensitive people, and 14 to 27 drinks per week for the strongest.
Note that these are not such alarming figures and represent only 1 to 4 drinks per day of the week, which is not difficult to achieve once the habit is established. Reserve alcoholic beverages only for special occasions and drink responsibly. Avoid as much as possible to allow alcohol to become part of your life, because for many, this can be a road with no return.
Fat in the liver for a prolonged time can cause severe inflammation in the organ, which in turn has the possibility of leading to cirrhosis of the liver, and even the development of cancer.