New Data: Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Linked to Liver Cancer
You don’t have to drink alcohol in order to damage your liver. NASH, short for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, is a severe form of fatty liver disease that recently overtook hepatitis C as the primary cause of liver cancer in Americans. According to data published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology, your risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease increases if you are obese or have diabetes.
What is Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis?
There are two forms of fatty liver disease — alcohol-related fatty liver disease, and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, is a form of fatty liver disease in people who consume little to no alcohol. The disease results in a buildup of excess fat in liver cells, which causes the liver to swell and become inflamed. This results in irreversible damage.
How Does NASH Affect the Liver?
One of the largest and most essential organs in the human body, the liver is primarily known as the body’s “maid” — the organ is responsible for “cleaning” our blood supply by filtering toxins such as alcohol and medication out of the bloodstream. Perhaps a lesser known fact, the liver also converts fats and nutrients into substances the body can use for energy. In people with NASH, excess fat in the liver can cause damage to healthy cells and prevent these crucial processes from happening.
NASH can lead to serious liver problems, starting with fibrosis (scarring) of the liver, which may progress to cirrhosis, a late stage of liver scarring. A larger proportion of patients with NASH develop cirrhosis, which can increase the risk of developing liver cancer and/or result in liver failure. NASH can also induce metabolic disorders that increase the risk of heart problems.
Who is at Risk of Developing NASH?
Anyone can develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In people with NASH, however, the liver disease is more likely to develop if you are overweight or obese, or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. According to one study, adults with type 2 diabetes are nearly twice as likely to develop liver cancer.
How to Prevent Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Currently, there is no FDA-approved pharmacological treatment for NASH. Many patients and even some healthcare professionals don’t understand NASH and the full impact nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has on the human body.
It is clear, however, that the development of NASH is strongly correlated to poor eating habits and excessive consumption of sugar. If you have NASH, or are at high risk of developing NASH due to obesity, diabetes, or hypertension, it is essential to improve your eating habits and engage in daily exercise. If you are looking for a weight loss solution, metabolic or bariatric surgery may be for you.
Bariatric Surgery in New Jersey: Your Health is Our Goal
The weight loss journey can feel long and arduous, but you are not alone — we treat many patients who struggle with losing weight and transitioning to a healthy lifestyle. Our bariatric surgeons in New Jersey take the time to consider your needs and treat you with respect and dignity. Bariatric non-surgical options are also available.
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