Fatty liver and risks for cirrhosis and cancer
Fatty liver disease that’s not related to alcohol use is linked with an increased risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Diabetes is an independent predictor of advanced liver disease diagnosis.
These are the main conclusions of a large study from Europe, Reuters reported.
Data from the study were reported in BMC Medicine online.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of liver disease worldwide. It progresses in some patients to steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The research team used healthcare records of 18 million adults to estimate risk of acquiring advanced liver disease diagnoses in patients with NAFLD or NASH compared to individually matched controls.
Data were extracted from four European primary care databases representing the UK, Netherlands, Italy and Spain.
Detecting the liver disease in patients at risk
We probably need a more systematic way of detecting the liver disease in patients at risk so we can prevent progression,” Dr. William Alazawi from Barts Liver Center and the University of London told Reuters Health. “This involves raising awareness of liver disease among patients and their doctors and also making the most of the blood tests and scans that currently exist in people who we know are at risk.”
Diabetes increases risks to develop liver cirrhosis or cancer
The researchers found that people with NAFLD or NASH were almost five times more likely than people with healthy livers to develop cirrhosis and 3.5 times more likely to develop liver cancer.
Compared to people with NAFLD or NASH and mild liver fibrosis, those with high-risk liver fibrosis were more than 33 times more likely to develop cirrhosis and 25 times more likely to develop liver cancer.
Among people with NAFLD or NASH, those with diabetes were more than twice as likely as those without diabetes to develop liver cirrhosis or cancer.