With a quarter of Americans living with the condition, fatty liver disease is increasingly a cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer), Medscape reports. Researchers looked at 5,749 people with HCC and 17,244 control individuals who did not have cancer in the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results–Medicare database. The data covered 2004 to 2009. The investigators presented their findings at the 50th International Liver Congress in Vienna, Austria.

Liver cancer was linked to hepatitis C virus (HCV) in 48 percent of cases, to fatty liver disease in 26 percent, alcoholic liver disease in 14 percent, hepatitis B virus (HBV) in 8 percent, and autoimmune hepatitis or biliary cirrhosis in 4 percent.

Cases of HCC in people with fatty liver disease increased about 5 percent each year.

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