Fatty liver disease: Two lesser-known warning signs and causes of the condition

Liver disease: NHS Doctor talks about link with alcohol

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It is normal for the liver to contain some fat, but if fat accounts for more than 10 per cent of the liver’s weight, then you have fatty liver and you may develop more serious complications. Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells and is a common liver complaint in Western countries. It affects about one in every 10 people.

If your eating habits are out of control, it could be an indication, you’re at risk for the potentially fatal condition.

One of the early fatty liver symptoms is binge eating, either feeling hungry all the time or having an intense craving for sugars.

These eating habits only add to the fat that is already accumulating in your liver.

“We have to be cognizant of what we’re eating because we are what we eat,” said Dr Rohit Loomba, director of the NAFLD Research Center at the University of California at San Diego.

“And if we consume excess calories, especially calories that are sugar-rich or carbohydrate-rich, over a long period of time, it will have negative consequences.”

People who are overweight are at an increased risk of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Dr Loomba cautions that visceral fat is the biggest concern.

He explains: “As the body mass index goes up and people go from a BMI of 30 to 35 to 40, the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease starts going up.

“We’re finding that the visceral fat correlates well with liver fat especially in middle-aged and younger adults.”

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In a study published in the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health visceral fat being a key mediator for liver disease was investigated.

A cross-sectional study involving 38 consecutive adults with NAFLD were analysed at a liver clinic.

Abdominal fat volumes were assessed by magnetic resonance imaging within two weeks of liver biopsy.

The extent of hepatic inflammation and fibrosis augmented incrementally with increases in visceral fat.

For each 1 percent increase in visceral fat, the odds ratio for increasing liver inflammation and fibrosis was 2.4 respectively.

Visceral fat remained an independent predictor of advanced steatohepatitis even when controlled for insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis.

The study concluded that visceral fat is directly associated with liver inflammation and fibrosis independent of insulin resistance and hepatic steatosis.

Visceral fat should therefore be a central target for future interventions in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and indeed all metabolic disease.

To help you monitor your condition, your GP might refer you to see a specialist for further assessment, explains Bupa.

“This can show if making changes to your lifestyle is working and help to make sure your liver doesn’t get any worse.”

According to the health body, your GP will examine you and may do some tests, such as take your blood pressure and measure your body mass index (BMI).

BMI is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy.a
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