Synthetic Chemical causes Liver Cancer

liver cancer

A synthetic chemical found in the environment can expose people to non-viral hepatocellular carcinoma. It is the most common type of liver cancer based on a study conducted by Keck School of Medicine USC.

The chemical is called perfluooctane sulfate or PFOS. It is from a class of manmade chemicals known as polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS. Moreover, these chemicals that are used commercially are called forever chemicals since they break down slowly. In addition, they accumulate in the environment and human tissue, which includes the liver.

Prior research has been conducted in association with PFAS exposure aiding in the development of liver cancer. However, this is the first study to confirm the association with humans.

Jesse Goodrich, Keck School of Medicine said,

“This builds on the existing research, but takes it one step further.”

“Liver cancer is one of the most serious endpoints in liver disease and this is the first study in humans to show that PFAS are associated with this disease.”

High Risk of Liver Cancer

More than 200,000 residents in LA and Hawaii were followed up for the development of cancer. The research team found 50 participants that developed liver cancer eventually. Moreover, their blood samples taken prior to the cancer diagnosis were compared with the 50 people who did not develop it.

Veronica Wendy Setiawan, Keck School of Medicine said,

“Part of the reason there have been few human studies is because you need the right samples.”

She further added,

“When you are looking at an environmental exposure, you need samples from well before a diagnosis because it takes time for cancer to develop.”

Several types of PFAS were found in the samples of blood, which were taken before the development of cancer among the participants. Moreover, the research revealed that the association was higher among the top 10% exposed to PFOS in comparison to those with lower levels of PFOS.

Furthermore, much of research has been conducted regarding the link between PFAS and liver cancer. They are hopeful to validate it further through research.

Chatzi said,

“We believe our work is providing important insights into the long-term health effects that these chemicals have on human health, especially with respect to how they can damage normal liver function.”

“This study fills an important gap in our understanding of the true consequences of exposure to these chemicals.”


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