Rising liver cancer rates among Latinos may be linked to a rise in obesity, according to a University of Texas study reported at a conference sponsored by the American Association for Cancer Research and reported by The Oncology Report. Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is on the rise in the United States; the increasing incidence is largely due to hepatitis C infection, but recent research indicates that fatty liver disease and diabetes may also be responsible.

For the study, researchers aggregated epidemiological data on new cases of liver cancer between 1995 and 2006 from the U.S. Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) program, the Texas Cancer Registry and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The researchers, led by Amelie Ramirez, DrPH, of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, found that while Americans as a whole demonstrated an HCC incidence rate of 5 cases per 100,000 people, the rate among Latinos was 7.5 cases per 100,000 nationwide, increasing to 9.7 per 100,000 in Texas and 10.6 per 100,000 in South Texas.

Ramirez and her colleagues also determined that obesity and diabetes were becoming more prevalent among American Latinos in general and-for obesity-Texas Latinos in particular. While the nationwide obesity rate for Latinos was 27%, it was 30% in Texas and 35% in South Texas.

According to The Oncology Report, Ramirez said that the Latino community should focus more on prevention and treatment for obesity and diabetes.