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Liver cancer rates have tripled since the 1980s. Researchers now show that persistent sleep deprivation in mice causes liver disease and eventually leads to liver cancer

“Recent studies have shown that more than 80 percent of the population in the United States adopts a lifestyle that leads to chronic disruption in their sleep schedules,” notes Loning Fu, senior author of the study and associate professor at Baylor College of Medicine.

“This has also reached an epidemic level in other developed countries, which is coupled with the increase in obesity and liver cancer risk,” she adds.

“Liver cancer is on the rise worldwide, and in human studies we’ve now seen that patients can progress from fatty liver disease to liver cancer without any middle steps such as cirrhosis,” says co-lead author David Moore, professor of molecular and cellular biology.

“We knew we needed an animal model to examine this connection, and studies in the Fu Lab found that chronically jet-lagged mice developed liver cancer in a very similar way as that described for obese humans,” he adds.

Sleep Disruption and Liver Cancer

The “master clock” n our brain regulates the circadian rhythms in tissues and organs around the body. This is important for sleep but also for normal metabolic function.

Shift work has already been linked to disruption of normal circadian function. A study reported by Medical News Today earlier this year, for example, linked simulated shift working patterns in mice with increased development of nonsmall cell lung cancer.

Now, researchers have associated sleep disruption with increased risk of liver cancer.

The American Cancer Society report that 700,000 people worldwide are diagnosed with liver cancer each year. Men are more likely to develop liver cancer than women. In the U.S., they estimate that over 18,000 men and nearly 9,000 women will die in 2016 from liver cancer.

Obesity is a major risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) – the most common type of liver cancer. Excess fat in the liver results in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which has a high incidence rate in obese individuals. NAFLD has been predicted to become the major cause of HCC in the 21st century.

Source: Medical News Today.

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