Physical Activity and Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Dig Dis Sci. 2023 Mar;68(3):1051-1059. doi: 10.1007/s10620-022-07601-w. Epub 2022 Jun 29.


Background & aims: Physical activity offers promise to protect against multiple non-hepatic primary cancers. We performed a systematic review to quantify the association between physical activity and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk.

Methods: We searched the Cochrane Library, Embase, Medline and trial registries through December 2020 for studies that measured physical activity levels in adults at risk for HCC. The primary outcome was HCC. Subgroup analysis was performed limiting to vigorous physical activity. Proportions and random-effects odds ratios (OR) with corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated.

Results: Seven studies met inclusion criteria, comprising 777,662 subjects (median age 55 years; 55% female). Greater amounts of physical activity were associated with less HCC (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.45-0.95, p = 0.03) compared to lower amounts. Vigorous physical activity was associated with even less HCC (OR 0.62, 95% CI 0.49-0.79, p < 0.01).

Conclusions: This meta-analysis demonstrates that greater amounts of physical activity are associated with lower odds of HCC. These results support the use of regular physical activity as an effective way to prevent HCC and provide helpful data to support a for future exercise-based interventional study to better define the optimal exercise prescription for patients at risk for primary liver cancer.

Keywords: Cancer; Chemoprevention; Cirrhosis; Exercise; Liver.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular* / prevention & control
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Middle Aged