Excess body weight and the risk of primary liver cancer: an updated meta-analysis of prospective studies

Eur J Cancer. 2012 Sep;48(14):2137-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ejca.2012.02.063. Epub 2012 Mar 23.


Aims: To provide a quantitative assessment of the association between excess body weight (EBW) and the risk of primary liver cancer (PLC), we performed an updated meta-analysis of prospective observational studies.

Methods: We searched PUBMED and EMBASE for studies of body mass index and the risk of PLC published through 15 th September 2011. Summary relative risks (SRRs) with their corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated using a random-effects model. The meta-regression and stratified methods were used to examine heterogeneity across studies.

Results: A total of 26 prospective studies, including 25,337 PLC cases, were included in this analysis. Overall, excess body weight (EBW: body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2) were associated with an increased risk of PLC, with significant heterogeneity (EBW: SRRs 1.48, 95% CIs 1.31-1.67, P(h)<0.001, I2=83.6%; Obesity: SRRs 1.83, 95% CIs 1.59-2.11, P(h)<0.001, I2=75.0%). Subgroup analyses revealed that the positive associations were independent of geographic locations, alcohol consumption, history of diabetes or infections with hepatitis B (HBV) and/or hepatitis C virus (HCV). Obese males had a higher risk of PLC than obese females did (P=0.027). A stronger risk of PLC with EBW was observed for patients with HCV (but not HBV) infection or cirrhosis compared with the general population.

Conclusions: Findings from this meta-analysis strongly support that EBW or obesity is associated with an increased risk of PLC in both males and females.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asia / epidemiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / diagnosis
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology