Even our livers are fat!

By • Published: July 20th, 2011
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Is your liver getting fat?

If you suffer from obesity, diabetes or both, there’s a good chance the answer is “yes.” The liver sorts through the food and drink you consume and takes in nutrients to fuel your body. Just as the fare you eat can pile fat on your tummy or thighs, it can do the same to your liver.

The accumulation of fat in liver cells can be caused by alcohol abuse or by a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common in the United States. That’s no surprise, considering several factors that contribute to its development … including obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and hypertension … are becoming more widespread, too.

A recent study of data collected from 1998 to 2008 showed the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease increased about three percent during that time. At the end of the study, nearly fifteen percent of participants had the disease.

Meanwhile, other conditions that affect the liver, including hepatitis B and C, and alcoholic liver disease, became less common or saw no change.

The study’s authors say unless something changes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will be fifty percent more prevalent by the year twenty-thirty. That’s pretty bad news.

The illness causes liver scarring also known as cirrhosis, and may lead to cancer or chronic liver disease. According to the American Liver Foundation, symptoms include nausea, fatigue and jaundice. Weakness, weight loss, confusion and abdominal pain, among other things, also can occur. However, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease doesn’t always cause symptoms.

How can you keep your liver from piling on the fat? Follow the same advice you would heed to ward off obesity and diabetes: Eat healthfully and exercise consistently.