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Reactive oxygen species drive the development of liver cancer

Many Austrians have never heard of fatty liver disease, but up to 30% suffer from this precursor to liver cancer. Fatty liver disease has become a common disease due to the usual risk factors that characterize the lifestyle in industrialized nations: obesity, lack of exercise and unhealthy diet with too much sugar.

Liver damage is often thought to be connected with alcohol consumption and viral infections. But obese Austrians, even if they do not drink alcohol, suffer frequently from liver damage. The so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) accounts for the large majority of liver problems. Early on NAFLD is painless and doctors fail to detect it for the lack of symptoms. But in the long run well-being is affected and possible outcomes include liver cancer or liver transplantation. Currently over 30% of the Austrian population might be suffering from fatty liver disease.

To reduce their risk of developing liver cancer, patients are advised to lose weight, as there is currently no medication. But we all know from our own experience that lifestyle changes are notoriously difficult to maintain. Therefore, intense research efforts focus on possible therapies. The research team led by Prof. Richard Moriggl at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Cancer Research, the University of Veterinary Medicine and Medical University of Vienna has now discovered that oxidative stress could be a target for new therapies and published their results in the prestigious journal "Scientific Reports".

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