Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Study shows many think ‘staying up late’ causes cancer

LIVER CANCER TRILOGY:Doctors have warned about the link between hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer and urged the public to take blood tests

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Department of Health’s Bureau of Health Promotion (BHP) yesterday said its latest survey showed that 93.3 percent of people in a recent survey mistakenly believe “staying up late” is a main cause of liver cancer.

According to an online survey conducted by the bureau in July, which collected valid responses from 3,668 people aged between 25 and 64, nearly all the people surveyed thought that staying up late was the main cause of liver cancer, while 81.3 percent and 64.3 percent of respondents thought liver cancer may be caused by hepatitis B and C respectively.

“It is a widely mistaken idea that ‘staying up late’ is the main cause of liver cancer, but there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove a direct positive relationship between them,” BHP’s Cancer Control and Prevention Division chief Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠) said, adding that if a person is healthy and does not suffer from hepatitis B or C, the chances of getting liver cancer from staying up late are not high.

The bureau said it is also worth noting that only 69.9 percent of the people surveyed had undergone blood tests for hepatitis B or C, and among those who do have hepatitis B or C, only 70.1 percent said they had seen a doctor for medical advice or treatment.

Research results showed that about 15 percent to 20 percent of people with hepatitis B may become hepatitis B carriers, and about 70 to 90 percent of people with hepatitis C may become carriers of the illness, the BHP said, adding that about 20 percent of chronic hepatitis B or C patients may eventually suffer from liver cirrhosis, and that each year about three to five percent of liver cirrhosis patients are diagnosed with liver cancer.

“The transition of hepatitis to liver cirrhosis and then liver cancer is what people often call ‘the liver cancer trilogy,’” Wu said, urging the public to take blood tests to check for hepatitis B and C and receive medical advice and follow-up exams to prevent the disease from worsening.

As most chronic hepatitis B or C sufferers do not show any uncomfortable symptoms, patients often neglect the disease and delay medical treatment, but in fact the control rate for hepatitis B has reached 80 percent while the cure rate for hepatitis C has reached 70 percent with proper medicinal treatments BHP said.

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