Hepatitis C and Liver Cancer

Hepatitis C is a viral liver infection that can cause liver cancer. In Japan, up to 75% of people with liver cancer, also called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), have hepatitis C. Hepatitis C can cause scarring in the liver, called liver cirrhosis. Once liver cirrhosis develops in people with hepatitis C, it's estimated there is a 20% chance of developing liver cancer. Up to 2.5% of people with chronic hepatitis C infection will go on to get liver cancer. In the United States lone there are an estimated 3.9 million people infected with the hepatitis C virus.1 This means that 97,500 people may develop liver cancer.

Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation in developed countries, and the most common chronic blood borne infection in the US.2 More than $10.7 billion are spent annually in the US on HCV and HCV-related medical problems.3

In people with hepatitis C virus, the following factors increase the likelihood that someone will develop liver cancer:

  1. cirrhosis
  2. older age
  3. male gender
  4. elevated baseline alpha-fetoprotein level (a blood tumor marker)
  5. heavy alcohol use
  6. co-infection with hepatitis B virus or HIV

Liver cancer is one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide and is closely associated with chronic liver disease. Approximately 80-90% of cases occur in patients with liver cirrhosis, which is believed to be the most important risk factor for liver cancer. Despite the progression of approaches, including radiofrequency ablation (RFA), the long term prognosis for people with liver cancer is still poor because of the high relapse rate and the frequent incidence of intrahepatic metastases.4,5

MK4 Promotes Healthy Liver Function in People with HCC

A randomized clinical trial published in 2004 in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed MK4 helps promote healthy liver function in people with hepatitis C. In this study, 80% fewer volunteers with hepatitis C and liver cirrhosis who took MK4 (45 mg daily) went on to develop liver cancer compared to those volunteers not taking MK4.6

While MK4 is not a medication, as a dietary supplement many studies show that it can help promote healthy cellular function. See table summarizing the MK4 research.