Liver cancer treatment may be aided by the discovery of certain causative factors.
Scientists at the Mayo Clinic were trying to ascertain the conditions which can trigger the disease, as catching liver cancer in the early stages of its onset gives patients a much more positive prognosis.
The team used the data from the Rochester Epidemiology Project, which records a county's entire inpatient and outpatient activity, to find that hepatitis C is now a growing cause of tumours.
Dr Ray Kim, principal investigator of the study, explained that it may take up to 30 years for hepatitis C to trigger liver cancer and that would account for the growing number of people in their 50s and 60s with cancer.
According to the report, 11 per cent of liver tumours were linked to obesity.
The latest figures from Cancer Research UK state that liver cancer was responsible for 3,390 deaths in the UK in 2008.