According to results recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, daily supplementation with vitamin K2 appears to significantly reduce the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma in women with viral cirrhosis of the liver.

The liver is the largest organ in the body and is responsible for over 500 functions, including the secretion of glucose, proteins, vitamins and fats; the production of bile; the processing of hemoglobin and detoxification of numerous substances. Primary liver cancer starts in the cells of the liver and can spread, through blood or lymph vessels, to different parts of the body. Approximately 85% of all liver cancers that start in the liver (primary liver cancer) are classified as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Viral cirrhosis of the liver is a viral infection that causes scarring of the liver. Individuals with viral cirrhosis of the liver may be at an increased risk of developing HCC. Researchers are evaluating ways to prevent HCC in patients who are at a high risk of its development.

Researchers from Japan recently conducted a clinical study to evaluate the effects of vitamin K2 on the development of HCC in women who had been diagnosed with viral cirrhosis. This trial included 40 women, 21 who received vitamin K2 supplementation daily and 19 who did not receive vitamin K2 (control group). Overall, only 2 of the 21 patients (approximately 9%) who received vitamin K2 developed HCC, while 9 of the 19 patients (approximately 46%) who did not receive vitamin K2 developed HCC.

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The researchers concluded that daily vitamin K2 supplementation significantly decreases the risk of developing HCC in women diagnosed with viral cirrhosis of the liver. Patients who have been diagnosed with viral cirrhosis of the liver may wish to speak with their physician about their risks and benefits of daily K2supplementation.

Reference: Habu D, Shiomi S, Tamori A, et al. Role of Vitamin K2 in the Development of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Women With Viral Cirrhosis of the Liver. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004;292:358-361.