Alcohol and hepatocarcinogenesis

Clin Mol Hepatol. 2020 Oct;26(4):736-741. doi: 10.3350/cmh.2020.0203. Epub 2020 Oct 1.


An excessive alcohol intake may result in fatty liver, acute/chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this review is to clarify the present condition and the mechanisms of alcohol-related hepatocarcinogenesis and clinical risk factors for alcohol-related HCC. There are several possible mechanisms through which alcohol may induce hepatocarcinogenesis, including the mutagenic effects of acetaldehyde toxicity through the formation of protein and DNA adducts and the production of reactive oxygen species due to the excessive hepatic deposition of iron, changes to lipid peroxidation and metabolism, inflammation and an impaired immune response and modifications to DNA methylation. Furthermore, it has been reported that alcohol accelerates liver carcinogenesis through several signaling pathways including gut-liver axis. From a clinical perspective, it is well known that alcohol interacts with other factors, such as age, gender, viral hepatitis, obesity, and diabetes leading to an increased risk of HCC.

Keywords: Alcoholics; Carcinogenesis, Liver; Liver neoplasms; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / etiology*
  • Ethanol
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms*
  • Risk Factors


  • Ethanol