Environmental Risk Factors for Liver Cancer and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

  • Trang VoPhamEmail author
Environmental Epidemiology (F Laden and J Hart, Section Editors)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Environmental Epidemiology


Purpose of Review

The objective of this review was to summarize recent epidemiologic research examining the associations between environmental exposures and liver cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Recent Findings

There were 28 liver cancer studies showing positive associations for exposures to aflatoxin, air pollution, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, asbestos, chimney sweeping occupation, and paints; an inverse association for ultraviolet radiation; and null/inconsistent results for organic solvents, pesticides, perfluorooctanoic acid, nuclear radiation, iron foundry occupation, and brick kiln pollution. There were n = 5 NAFLD studies showing positive associations for heavy metals, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, and selenium; and no association with trihalomethanes.


Evidence suggests that particular environmental exposures may be associated with liver cancer and NAFLD. Future liver cancer studies should examine specific histological subtypes and assess historical environmental exposures. Future NAFLD research should examine incident, biopsy-confirmed cases, and the potential role of obesity and/or diabetes in studies of environmental factors and NAFLD.


Liver cancer Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease Environmental exposures Epidemiology Risk factors 



The author would like to thank Isabel Holland for providing assistance in conducting the literature search.

Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) Training Program in Cancer Epidemiology (T32 CA009001).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of MedicineBrigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA

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