Background and aims:
Dietary factors play an important role in promoting nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development through regulation of metabolism and inflammation. However, so far there was no evidence regarding how dietary factors may influence different disease outcomes in the NAFLD to HCC progression. Our study aimed to comprehensively evaluate the role of dietary factors on the risk of progression from NAFLD to HCC.
A comprehensive literature research was conducted in PubMed, Web of Science and Embase databases to identify case-control and cohort studies published up to March 15, 2022 in English. We included studies investigating associations of food and beverage items (excluding alcohol), food groups, dietary patterns, and dietary habits with incidence risk of four main chronic liver diseases involved in the NAFLD-to-HCC progression (i.e., NAFLD, liver fibrosis, liver cirrhosis, and HCC). Three researchers independently performed the literature search, selected eligible articles, performed data abstraction and evaluated study quality. After evaluating adequacy and credibility of the associations reported for each dietary factor and each liver disease outcome, we summarized and evaluated the consistency of associations based on a priori determined criteria considering study design and the proportion of significant associations.
There were 109 studies included in this review (47 on NAFLD, 1 on liver fibrosis, 6 on liver cirrhosis, and 55 on HCC). Consistent evidence suggested that higher dietary inflammatory potential was associated with increased risk of both NAFLD and HCC whereas Mediterranean diet was associated with lower risk of both diseases. Additionally, greater conformity to the Healthy Eating Index, Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension score, and Mediterranean Diet Score, and dietary patterns with high dietary antioxidant capacity reduced NAFLD risk. Some specific foods including soft drinks and red and/or processed meat were associated with increased NAFLD risk while total vegetables and spinach were associated with reduced NAFLD risk. Coffee and white meat consumption were inversely related to HCC risk.
Dietary patterns or individual foods representing a more anti-inflammatory potential were associated with reduced risk of both NAFLD and HCC, which implied diet-induced inflammation may impact NAFLD progression towards HCC.