Liver cancer diet, food, supplements herbs vitamins
Feb 20 2014 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

The liver is one of the largest organs in the body -- the skin is larger -- filling the upper right side of the abdomen inside the rib cage. It has two parts, a right lobe and a smaller left lobe. The liver has many important functions, including: Filtering harmful substances from the blood so they can be passed from the body in stools and urine; making bile to help digest fats from food; storing glycogen (sugar), which the body uses for energy.
     There are two ways in which cancer can involve the liver. The cancer can arise from the liver itself (primary liver cancer) or it can spread to the liver from a primary tumor at another site (secondary, or metastatic, cancer).

Liver cancer is diagnosed in about 19,000 Americans annually but is much more common elsewhere and is the fifth most common cancer globally. Risk factors include chronic liver infections and some forms of hepatitis. The disease is common in China and countries without widespread use of the hepatitis B vaccine, which is routinely given to U.S. infants. Liver cancer doesn't respond well to conventional chemotherapy and is often diagnosed too late for surgery to be an option. Many patients die within a year of diagnosis.

Natural liver cancer treatment or prevention
Many herbs and nutrients have an influence on liver cancer prevention and treatment. I will mention a few that I have come across and this article will be updated as more information becomes available. Please note that research in this area is minimal and should not be used to forego traditional medical treatment for liver cancer unless your doctor reads this information and concurs with trying some of these supplements. We will need significantly more research in this area of herbal medicine before we can make any statements with confidence regarding the role of herbs in liver support.

AHCC -- Active Hexose-correlated Compound - is a mushroom extract that has been tested as an immune enhancing, liver protective anti-cancer supplement.

BCAA - Branched chained amino acids

IP-6 has been reported to have in vivo and in vitro anti- cancer activity.

Broccoli sprouts and their extract could be considered.

Fish oil
Gastroenterology. 2012. Consumption of n-3 fatty acids and fish reduces risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. Japan Public Health Center-Based Prospective Study Group. Epidemiology and Prevention Division, Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, National Cancer Center, Tsukiji, Chuo-ku Tokyo, Japan. Fish is a rich source of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Although consumption of fish and n-3 PUFA has been reported to protect against the development of some types of cancer, little is known about its association with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the association between fish and n-3 PUFA consumption and HCC incidence (n = 398) in a population-based prospective cohort study of 90,296 Japanese subjects (aged, 45-74 y). Hazard ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the highest vs the lowest quintile were estimated from multivariable adjusted Cox proportional hazards regression models. We also conducted subanalyses of subjects with known hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) status, and of subjects who were anti-HCV and/or hepatitis B surface antigen positive. All tests of statistical significance were 2-sided. Among all subjects, consumption of n-3 PUFA-rich fish and individual n-3 PUFAs was associated inversely with HCC, in a dose-dependent manner. These inverse associations were similar irrespective of HCV or HBV status. Consumption of n-3 PUFA-rich fish or n-3 PUFAs, particularly EPA, DPA, and DHA, appears to protect against the development of HCC, even among subjects with HBV and/or HCV infection.

Mangosteen is a fruit

Lycium or wolfberry also known as goji berry

Cornus officinalis

Diet and liver cancer
Certain foods, among them milk and fruit, appear to reduce the likelihood of developing liver cancer. Dr. Renato Talamini, at the National Tumor Institute in Aviano, and colleagues studied 185 patients with liver cancer and a comparison group of 412 "controls" without cancer. As intake of various foods went up, the risk of liver cancer went down. High intakes of milk and yoghurt reduced the chances of developing liver cancer. High consumption of white meat lowered the risk by 56 percent, and with high intake of fruit, it went down by 52 percent. Vegetables, too, apparently had a protective effect, but this didn't reach significance from a statistical standpoint. The researchers saw that the findings held good for patients with hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Dr/. RenatoTalamini advised that, to ward off liver cancer, one should "adopt a correct diet, rich in fruits and vegetables." Also important, he added, "is limiting consumption of alcohol beverages and avoiding HCV infection by practicing safe sex and eliminating needle sharing." International Journal of Cancer, 2006.

In a population-based prospective study of Japanese individuals, consumption of vegetables, green-yellow and green leafy vegetables was inversely associated with the risk of liver cancer. British Journal Cancer. 2009. Vegetable, fruit and antioxidant nutrient consumption and subsequent risk of hepatocellular carcinoma: a prospective cohort study in Japan.

The amount of fat accumulated around internal abdominal organs influences the likelihood of a recurrence of liver cancer following treatment.

Liver cancer symptom
Abdominal pain is generally the initial and most frequent symptom of liver cancer. While the pain my be severe in some instances, the pain is more likely to be a persistent dull ache, which intensifies in later stages. Weakness and weight loss are also common symptoms of liver cancer. Liver cancer is sometimes called a "silent disease" because in its early stages it often does not cause symptoms. But, as the tumor grows, liver cancer symptoms may include: Pain in the upper abdomen on the right side; nausea and vomiting; swollen abdomen (bloating); weight loss; loss of appetite and feelings of fullness; fatigue and weakness; yellow skin and eyes, and dark urine from jaundice; and lastly fever. Please note that a number of medical conditions can cause these symptoms, they are not exclusive to liver cancer.

Liver cancer treatment
Primary liver cancer is difficult to treat. Surgical removal is the best option but these tumors are often too large and too extensive for surgery. Chemotherapy is occasionally used for inoperable tumors but any benefit is usually short lived. Unfortunately liver cancer cure is difficult.
   Several different types of treatment may be offered for secondary liver cancer, most frequently chemotherapy. Surgeons may also resect one or two isolated, metastatic liver tumors.

Metastatic liver cancer
Metastatic cancers are tumors that spread from the organ or origin. Because of its blood supply, the liver is a common site for some cancers to spread. Some of the most common cancers that spread to the liver are those originating in the colon, pancreas, lung and breast. Lymphomas and leukemias can also invade the liver. So can others.

Liver cancer survival rate - liver cancer prognosis
Unfortunately, survival rates for primary liver cancer are low. Survival rate depends on the stage of the liver cancer. Liver cancer prognosis depends on many things, including how early the tumor has been detected. Surgery may be an option if the tumor is small enough and caught early. The success rate of this surgery, however, is low; only ten to twenty percent of all hepatocellular carcinoma surgeries succeed in entirely removing cancerous tissue. If the surgery is not successful, the disease is often fatal within three to six months; the prognosis for liver metastases is equally poor.

Liver Cancer statistics
Primary liver cancer (cancer that starts in the liver) is one of the most common cancers in the world, with approximately one million cases reported every year. This ranges from about 15,000 cases in the United States to more than a 250,000 in China. About 80% of people with primary liver cancer are male.

Liver cancer cause
In the western world, most people who develop liver cancer usually also have a condition called cirrhosis of the liver. This is a fine scarring throughout the liver which is due to a variety of causes including infection and heavy alcohol drinking over a long period of time. However, only a small proportion of people who have cirrhosis of the liver develop primary liver cancer.
     Infection with either the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus can lead to liver cancer, and can also be the cause of cirrhosis.
     Steroid abuse, smoking, and exposure to toxins are additional causes of liver cancer.
     People who have a rare condition called haemochromatosis, which causes excess deposits of iron in the body, have a higher chance of developing liver cancer.
     In Africa and Asia a poison called aflatoxin, found in moldy peanuts and grain, is an important cause of liver cancer.
     High blood levels of the pesticide DDT are associated with an elevated risk of liver cancer.

Hypothyroidism
Women with long-standing hypothyroidism, commonly referred to as an "underactive thyroid," are at increased risk of liver cancer. By contrast, hypothyroidism is not significantly associated with this malignancy in men. Hepatology, May, 2009.

The role of Coffee
It is possible that those who drink coffee could lower their risk.

Liver Cancer Research
Effect of lycium barbarum polysaccharide on human hepatoma QGY7703 cells: inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis.
Life Sci. 2005.
Lycium barbarum polysaccharide, extracted from Lycium barbarum that is a kind of traditional Chinese herb, is found to have anticancer activity. In this study, the effect of lycium on the proliferation rate, cell cycle distribution and apoptosis in the human hepatoma QGY7703 cell line were investigated. The study suggests that the induction of cell cycle arrest and the increase of intracellular calcium in apoptotic system may participate in the antiproliferative activity of lycium in human liver cancer QGY7703 cells.

Chemical aspects of coumarin compounds for the prevention of hepatocellular carcinomas.
Curr Med Chem Anti-Canc Agents. 2005.
The normalization of plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) has been proved to be a strategy for preventing the development of liver cancer in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infection. Glycyrrhizin, a plant medicine, normalizes plasma ALT and prevents liver cancer. However, glycyrrhizin is administered intravenously and thereby chemical which is effective on oral administration is required. Coumarin compounds are active components of herbs used for the treatment of various diseases. The ability of coumarin compounds to lower plasma ALT were examined. Furocoumarin effectively lowers plasma ALT, but the safety range between the effective and toxic dosages is narrow. In contrast, osthole, a simple coumarin, causes strong reduction of plasma ALT and also inhibits caspase-3 activation. Furthermore, this chemical is quite safe upon large dose administration. In the structure of osthole, the methoxy group at position-7 and the 3-methyl-2-butenyl group at position-8 were elucidated to be essential for the beneficial effect of this chemical. We conclude that osthole will become a leading chemical for synthesizing a compound which prevents liver cancer on oral administration.

Chemoprevention against hepatocellular carcinoma of Cornus officinalis in vitro.
Am J Chin Med. 2004.
The water extracts of Cornus officinalis Sieb. et Zuce against hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was studied for its chemopreventive potential. Three HCC cell lines and three leukemic cell lines were tested with XTT assay. Extracts of C. officinalis inhibited all these HCC cells and leukemic cells at a concentration of 100 microg/ml and was dose-dependent. P53 and Ras significantly affected its activity against HCC. Extracts of C. officinalis also possessed the anti-oxidant activity through free radicals scavenging activity at a concentration of 50 microg/ml. In summary, our experiment implied that C. officinalis might be a candidate for chemopreventive agent against hepatocellular carcinoma through the antioxidant and anti-neoplastic effects.

Garcinone E, a xanthone derivative, has potent cytotoxic effect against hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines.
Planta Med. 2002.
Treatment of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) with chemotherapy has generally been disappointing and it is most desirable to have more effective new drugs. We extracted and purified 6 xanthone compounds from the rinds (peel) of the fruits of Garcinia mangostana L. ( mangosteen ), and then tested the cytotoxic effects of these compounds on a panel of 14 different human cancer cell lines including 6 hepatoma cell lines. Our results have shown that one of the xanthone derivatives from mangosteen which could be identified as garcinone E has potent cytotoxic effect on all HCC cell lines as well as on the other gastric and lung cancer cell lines included in the screen. We suggest that garcinone E extract from mangosteen may be potentially useful for the treatment of certain types of cancer. Liver cancer symptom.

Additional herbs for liver cancer
Celery seed extract

Questions
Would lipoic acid be helpful in liver cancer?
   I have not seen any research regarding the use of lipoic acid supplement for liver cancer.

My wife of 61 years of age has been told by the hospital, after taking some tests such as blood tests and ultrasound, that she has got liver cancer. It was a big shock for us. She has no symptoms. She takes yearly abdominal ultrasound and mammogram as well as a chest x-ray and up to last year these tests were all negative. My wife had breast cancer in 2001 and she was all right after an operation, chemo, radiotherapy and spent five years on tamoxefen. She even had liver function tests last August and they were perfect. Last Mayís various blood tests were mainly good except the liver function tests. The bilirubin was normal, but her ESR was 38. She has an appetite all right The CBC was good. The doctors want now to give her chemotherapy. Deep down inside she does not want to have it. She is quite prepared to try alternative ways. She is very fond of homeopathy. In fact she goes to one regularly. . Is it possible for Dr. Sahelian to prescribe some herbs, vitamins, or supplements, to see how she goes for a month and then I take another ultrasound or blood test for the liver. My wife is light weight ne ver smoked and does not drink alcohol. She is on a vegetarian diet and takes at least five servings of fruit a day. I read so much about the goodness of curcumin, isoflavones, genestein, quercetin, resveratrol and ellagic acid, beta glucan, etc and of course green tea. Perhaps, such supplements can find a way to destroy these cancerous cells. On the other hand I would greatly appreciate Dr. Sahelianís advice without any liability.
    I cannot offer specific advice but hopefully some of the information on this page will be helpful.