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ER physician Dr. Travis Stork shares the grim statistic from the CDC which reported that from 2000-2016 death rates from liver cancer have increased 43% for American adults. This statistic doesn’t mean that liver cancer is deadlier than before but rather more people are developing liver cancer.
Interventional oncologist and radiologist Dr. Kien Vuu joins the discussion. He says the ability to treat liver cancer has never been better and there are treatments that allow people to live longer. “The sad part is, people are getting more liver cancer because of our lifestyle choices.”
Dr. Vuu shares that he was a refugee in Vietnam. He says in that country, along with China and Japan, hepatitis B was the number one cause of all liver cancer in the world. Since 2000, the liver cancer rates in the U.S. have climbed very rapidly. Dr. Vuu says it’s how we eat, the alcohol we drink, and the other poor lifestyle choices being made that play a factor.
Dr. Travis adds it’s worth considering the rise in numerous other diseases as well. He says we don’t know for sure if there is something in our environment that could be toxic to the liver.
Dr. Vuu agrees, there are toxins out there, but says the things that cause a lot of chronic diseases – hypertension, diabetes, obesity – are what cause a fatty liver. It’s that inflammation of the fatty liver over time that causes it to get cirrhotic and that is when you start developing liver cancer. “The quick fix is actually the easy fix, fix our lifestyles.”
Dr. Travis points out the beauty in fixing your lifestyle is that you can fix and lower the risk for several of these major killer diseases in our country.