Katherine McGlynn, a senior investigator at the National Cancer Institute, said approximately one-third of the U.S. population has metabolic syndrome -- at least three of five conditions: raised blood pressure, elevated waist circumference, low high-density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol, raised triglyceride levels and raised fasting plasma glucose levels.
The study found people with metabolic syndrome may be at increased risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma -- two types of liver cancer.
"The prognosis for liver cancer is only marginally better than the prognosis for pancreatic cancer, with a five-year survival of approximately 10 percent," McGlynn says in a statement. "Prognosis is more favorable, however, when liver cancers are diagnosed at early stages when they are small and localized to the liver."
The researchers conducted statistical analyses involving 3,649 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma and 743 cases of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and 195,953 cancer-free controls that showed people with liver cancer were significantly more likely than cancer-free people to have a prior history of metabolic syndrome.
McGlynn says 37.1 percent of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma had pre-existing metabolic syndrome, as did 29.7 percent of patients with intrahepatic carcinoma, vs. 17.1 percent of the cancer-free adults had metabolic syndrome.
The findings were presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's 102nd annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.