Chronic infection with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus is a risk factor for liver cancer. Areas with a higher rate of these infectious diseases have a higher incidence of liver cancer. This includes parts of Africa, China, and Southeast Asia, where hepatitis B virus is endemic and is passed on from mother to child.
The risk of liver cancer is also greater for people who have cirrhosis (scarring) of the liver, such as from heavy alcohol use.
People with metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and hyperlipidemia) are also at risk for chronic liver disease and liver cancer.
Men are nearly three times as likely as women to get liver cancer, and people who have family members with liver cancer may be more likely to get the disease. In the United States, most people with liver cancer are diagnosed in their early 60s.
Other risk factors include long-term exposure to aflatoxin (produced in tropical and subtropical regions by a fungus that may contaminate rice, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans), anabolic steroids, and arsenic.
Anyone suffering from chronic liver disease (cirrhosis) should be considered for a liver cancer screening, such as an ultrasound of the liver.