Diabetics with fatty liver more prone to cirrhosis, cancer

May 31, 2019

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is currently the most common type of liver disease affecting the global community. It’s causing factors include obesity, diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease; potentially risking cirrhosis or liver cancer – cirrhosis is an advanced scarring of the liver tissue that impedes its function.

A European study of 18 million subjects, led by Dr. William Alazawi from Barts Liver Centre and the University of London, UK, recently found that people with NAFLD were either 5 or 3.5 times more likely to develop cirrhosis or liver cancer compared to those with healthy livers. Worse, data pegs diabetics with NAFLD twice at risk for liver cirrhosis/cancer and those with high-risk liver fibrosis (scarring) were 33 times more likely to develop liver cirrhosis and 25 times more likely to develop liver cancer – insulin resistance promotes cirrhosis and mortality. Furthermore, over half the patients were observed to have developed cirrhosis within 3 years after their first diagnosis of NAFLD.

Liver disease(s) are known to ‘silently’ progress to advanced stages – Dr. Alazawi thinks the patients who developed cirrhosis so soon after NAFLD were victims of late diagnosis which could have been addressed earlier.As study data concludes that diabetes is a reliable predictor of cirrhosis and liver cancer, physicians are advised to routinely assess the liver and encourage patients to check their weight and lifestyle habits constantly.

Dr. Alazawi also adds that systematic liver disease detection can prevent progression of the disease, but “…raising awareness among patients/doctors and making the most of the blood tests and scans” would help immensely.

Category: Health alert

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