By Lisa Rapaport
(Reuters Health) – The only liver disease that is becoming more common in the US is caused by obesity and diabetes, although other types of liver disease related to alcohol use or hepatitis are less common.
For the study, the researchers examined nationwide health data collected between 1988 and 2016 in five cycles. During this period, the proportion of adults with so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) increased by 20% to "Liver disease in the US is shifting from viral hepatitis to NAFLD," said Drs. Zobair Younossi, principal author of the study and chair of the medical department of the Enova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia.
"This is primarily due to the epidemic of obesity and diabetes," Younossi said via email. "This is important to patients because NAFLD can be a silent disease for decades."
During the study period, the proportion of the population with obesity increased from 22.2% to 38.9%, while the proportion with diabetes increased from 7.2% to 1
Rates of alcoholic liver disease have hardly changed during the study period and affect about 0.8% to 1% of the population.
The proportion of people with chronic viral hepatitis infections that can spread contact with blood became less common or remained stable.
Hepatitis B – spread by blood, semen, and other body fluids – remained stable, affecting approximately 0.3% to 0.4% of patients throughout the study period.
And the prevalence of hepatitis C, which often spreads when drug users divide the needles, fell from 1.6% to 0.9% during the study period. Study period did not capture this shift, the researchers note.
Many people may not realize that they have NAFLD because they can live symptom-free for years, writes the study team. The researchers identified NAFLD cases based on ultrasound results that showed liver damage in participants.
The NAFLD study was more likely to be men, elderly and Hispanics.
Most people have a little fat in their liver, but in fatty liver disease, more than 5 percent by weight of the liver is made up of fat. If the disease is not associated with liver damage from heavy drinking, it is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is most commonly associated with obesity, diabetes and certain eating habits.
In the Overpopulation Study Population
About four out of five people with obesity and type 2 diabetes had NAFLD.
The study identified a NAFLD but was not designed to determine whether or how any individual features could cause NAFLD.
"People with NAFLD and obesity should ask their doctors for help in losing weight because even a modest weight loss would improve the NAFLD and they are more. It can be expected that their efforts will succeed with appropriate local support." said Dimitrios Koutoukidis, a liver disease researcher at Oxford University in the UK who was not involved in the study.
"Being healthy and being physically active can also help improve the NAFLD," added Koutoukidis.
SOURCE: https://bit.ly/2H6Xvbv Good, online, July 31, 2019.