Role of alcohol in liver carcinogenesis

Semin Liver Dis. 2009 May;29(2):222-32. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1214377. Epub 2009 Apr 22.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignant tumors in the world and contributes significantly to cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Chronic alcohol consumption has long been associated with progressive liver disease toward the development of hepatic cirrhosis and the subsequent increased risk for developing HCC. In assessing the role of alcohol during hepatic disease, and as a carcinogen, many of the deleterious effects of alcohol can be attributed to alcohol metabolism in hepatocytes. In addition to the direct effects of alcohol/alcohol metabolism on hepatocyte transformation, increasing evidence indicates that other intrahepatic and systemic effects of alcohol are likely to play an equally significant role in the process of hepatic tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / chemically induced
  • DNA Damage
  • Disease Progression
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects*
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / etiology*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Risk Factors


  • Ethanol
  • Acetaldehyde