Obesity is recognised as a risk factor for many types of cancers, in particular hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). A critical factor in the development of HCC from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the presence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Therapies aimed at NASH to reduce the risk of HCC are sparse and largely unsuccessful. Lifestyle modifications such as diet and regular exercise have poor adherence. Moreover, current pharmacological treatments such as pioglitazone and vitamin E have limited effects on fibrosis, a key risk factor in HCC progression. As NAFLD is becoming more prevalent in developed countries due to rising rates of obesity, a need for directed treatment is imperative. Numerous novel therapies including PPAR agonists, anti-fibrotic therapies and agents targeting inflammation, oxidative stress and the gut-liver axis are currently in development, with the aim of targeting key processes in the progression of NASH and HCC. Here, we critically evaluate literature on the aetiology of NAFLD-related HCC, and explore the potential treatment options for NASH and HCC.
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