- March 2, 2016
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Although Obesity and alcoholism are two very different health issues, their impact on the liver can be quite similar. Both can cause deposition of fat in the liver – a condition called fatty liver disease. Almost all heavy drinkers develop this condition.
Fatty liver disease has become common among nondrinkers also, especially among people who are overweight /obese or have Type 2 diabetes. When it occurs in moderate or nondrinkers, we call it nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
NAFLD is one of the most common cause of chronic liver disease. An estimated 20 to 30 percent of Americans have NAFLD. While the short-term effects are minimal, potential long-term complications like gastrointestinal bleeding, encephalopathy (abnormal brain function), cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure are the same that often occurs after chronic alcohol abuse.
Once people cross a certain threshold in terms of weight and low activity , the pancreas cannot produce enough insulin to keep the blood sugar and blood fat (cholesterol) under normal control. NAFLD appears to develop when the liver, which normally helps to balance the amount of sugar and fat in the blood, becomes overloaded. The liver then starts storing excess fat in its own cells.
If too much fat builds up, or if certain genetic conditions are present, the fatty liver tissue can become inflamed and the liver cells can be damaged or destroyed. About 25 to 40 percent of people with NAFLD progress to this more severe form of the disease, called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) (Steatohepatitis is steatosis, or fat buildup, combined with hepatitis, or inflammation.) If the damage continues, it can lead to cirrhosis in which there will be permanent scarring of the liver.This will further results in liver failure.
Although there is no medical treatment for NAFLD or NASH, most people can stabilize or even reverse the liver disease process by losing weight and choosing lifestyle habits that support, rather than harm, the liver.
Bariatric Surgery has come as a boon in resolution of fatty liver disease in obese and diabetics.