Liver cancer deaths a scourge in Asia: Hepatitis B infection the culprit

With rates of hepatitis B infection higher in Asia than anywhere else on the globe, deaths from liver cancer are an overwhelmingly Asian phenomenon. Almost 80 percent of cases and deaths from liver cancer occur on the Asian continent, according to the World Health Organization.

Hepatitis B infection is a prime risk factor in developing liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma. While the infection accounts for 65% of liver cancer cases in Europe and the United States, in Asia it is responsible for 80%.

Where mandatory Hepatitis B vaccination has been introduced in Asia, rates of the infection and of liver cancer have decreased. That is true in both Singapore and Taiwan, But a rise in obesity and in the abuse of alcohol – both also significant factors in the development of the disease – has blunted the impact of the vaccine.