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Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Another lifestyle disease?

Published: October 24, 2014

Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with fatty liver disease (hepatic steatosis) a condition where excessive amounts of fat accumulate in your liver. Although alcohol related liver disease is the most common liver disease in North America, fatty liver disease can also be caused by other lifestyle related factors, other diseases and/or medical treatments. In these instances the disease is referred to as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The anatomical position of the liver
The anatomical position of the liver
Fatty liver disease causes significant metabolic disturbances, can be fatal and comes close to cardiovascular disease and cancer as a cause of death. Despite the severity of the disease it is often undiagnosed, particularly when the cause is not related to alcohol consumption.
Many people do not display symptoms of fatty liver disease and recent research indicates that non-alcoholic liver disease is increasing in prevalence across all ethnicities and age groups.
People who do not consume alcohol or keep within health recommendations for alcohol consumption may assume that they are not at risk for fatty liver disease, but this assumption may be false particularly if you exhibit one or more of the risk factors associated with NAFLD.
This article provides an overview of non-fatty liver disease, its impact on your body and factors which increase your risk for the disease.
NAFLD appears to be associated with obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome (a combination of risk factors: insulin resistance, hypertension, abnormal blood lipids, and abdominal obesity), starvation, bariatric surgery and parenteral alimentation (feeding through an injection site such as intravenous feeding).
The prevalence of NAFLD, which could be considered the hepatic manifestation of metabolic syndrome, is increasing along with the prevalence of obesity, diabetes (type 2) and metabolic syndrome. NAFLD adversely affects liver enzymes and abnormal liver enzymes increase your risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
NAFLD describes the early stages of liver deterioration which if left untreated can develop into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) an extreme form of the disease which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver in 15-25% of cases. Cirrhosis may result in liver related death within 10 years of diagnosis in 30-40% of diagnosed cases.
A recent study reported that in a group of middle aged (45-65 years) American adults 46% presented with NAFLD and 12.2% with NASH. Prevalence of the disease was highest in Hispanics...link to the full article to learn more.

Related Topics

Diet  Health  Metabolism  Physical Activity  Your Body 

References

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Hasse, JM. and Matarese, LE. (2000). Medical nutrition therapy for liver, biliary system and exocrine pancreas disorders. In K. Mann & S. Escott-Stump (Eds.) Krause's Food, Nutrition & Diet Therapy (2000) .
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Whitney, E. & Rady Rolfes, S. (2005). Understanding Nutrition. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth
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Williams, CD., et al. (2011). Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Among a Largely Middle-Aged Population Utilizing Ultrasound and Liver Biopsy: A Prospective Study. Gastroenterology, 140:124 –131
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Welsh, JA., et al. (2013) Increasing Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Among United States Adolescents, 1988–1994 to 2007–2010. Pediatrics, 162(3): 496–500 doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.08.043.
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