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Why is the impact of Liver Cancer important to people in alberta?

Liver cancer is the 20th most common cancer in Alberta.1
About 220 adults were diagnosed in 2015.2

  • Liver cancer is much more common in men than in women. In fact, about 3 out of 4 people who develop liver cancer are men.1
  • The risk of men getting liver cancer begins to rise at age 40 and peaks between 70 and 74. The risk for women doesn’t rise until about age 55 and peaks between 80 and 85.1
  • People with hepatitis B are 20 times more likely to develop liver cancer compared with people who don’t have hepatitis B.3 People with hepatitis C are 23 times more likely to develop liver cancer.3
  • The hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses can be spread by:
    • sharing needles used for injecting drugs with an infected person
    • getting a tattoo or piercing with tools that weren’t sterilized
    • having sex with an infected person without using a condom
  • A mother who has hepatitis B can pass it to her baby during delivery.

What can I do?

Experts agree that together, we can prevent about 55 out of every 100 cases of liver cancer in Alberta.2 Here’s how:

About 27% of new cancer cases are in people who have hepatitis B and about 16% are in people who have hepatitis C.3

To learn more about hepatitis B or hepatitis C, go to

Grade 6 students can get the hepatitis B vaccine as part of the school immunization program. If you were born in 1981 or later and did not get all the recommended doses in school, you can get the hepatitis B vaccine for free. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C.

All women who are pregnant should see a health care provider before the baby is born. Health care providers make sure all pregnant women get tested for hepatitis B. If a woman has the virus, her baby can get shots to help prevent the infection from being passed along.

Other ways to avoid getting hepatitis B and hepatitis C include:

  • use a condom when you have sex
  • don't share needles
  • wear latex or plastic gloves if you have to touch blood
  • don't get a tattoo, or make sure that the needles used have been cleaned properly and are sterile
  • don't share toothbrushes or razors

Tobacco smoking is linked to about 24% of new liver cancer cases in Alberta.8 

Tobacco has cancer-causing toxins (called carcinogens) that damage liver cells. Over time, the damaged cells can turn into cancer. You can lower your risk for liver cancer when you quit using tobacco or cut down.

Not being physically active is linked to about 12% of new liver cancer cases in Alberta.9

Excess weight is linked to about 10% of new liver cancer cases.10

Alcohol is linked to up to about 4% of new liver cancer cases.11

When it comes to preventing cancer, there is no safe amount of alcohol. For people who choose to drink alcohol, Canada's Low Risk-Drinking Guidelines recommend no more than 2 standard drinks a week.

Not eating enough vegetables is linked to about 7% of new liver cancer cases.12 Canada's Food Guide recommends eating plenty of vegetables and fruits every day.13 To achieve health benefits, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends that adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity per week.6

More information on liver cancer symptoms, diagnosis and treatment at MyHealth Alberta.

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