The role of amount and type of dietary fat consumption in the etiology of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is poorly understood, despite suggestive biological plausibility. The associations of total fat, fat subtypes and fat sources with HCC incidence were investigated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, which includes 191 incident HCC cases diagnosed between 1992 and 2010. Diet was assessed by country-specific, validated dietary questionnaires. A single 24-hr diet recall from a cohort subsample was used for measurement error calibration. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were estimated from Cox proportional hazard models. Hepatitis B and C viruses (HBV/HCV) status and biomarkers of liver function were assessed separately in a nested case-control subset with available blood samples (HCC = 122). In multivariable calibrated models, there was a statistically significant inverse association between total fat intake and risk of HCC (per 10 g/day, HR = 0.80, 95% CI: 0.65-0.99), which was mainly driven by monounsaturated fats (per 5 g/day, HR = 0.71, 95% CI: 0.55-0.92) rather than polyunsaturated fats (per 5 g/day, HR = 0.92, 95% CI: 0.68-1.25). There was no association between saturated fats (HR = 1.08, 95% CI: 0.88-1.34) and HCC risk. The ratio of polyunsaturated/monounsaturated fats to saturated fats was not significantly associated with HCC risk (per 0.2 point, HR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.73-1.01). Restriction of analyses to HBV/HCV free participants or adjustment for liver function did not substantially alter the findings. In this large prospective European cohort, higher consumption of monounsaturated fats is associated with lower HCC risk.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Cancer

Publication Date





2715 - 2728


European populations, cohort study, dietary fats, hepatocellular carcinoma, Adult, Aged, Carcinoma, Hepatocellular, Case-Control Studies, Diet, Dietary Fats, Europe, Female, Food Habits, Humans, Incidence, Life Style, Liver Neoplasms, Male, Middle Aged, Nutritional Status, Prospective Studies, Risk, Risk Factors, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult