AMERICA FACES AN EPIDEMIC OF FATTY LIVER DISEASE, and it’s not because people are drinking too much.
Some 65 million Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and that number will reach 100 million by 2030, according to Scott Friedman, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
And currently 16.5 million people have the most serious subtype of NAFLD, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a number that will rise to 27 million, he told reporters at the Liver Meeting, the annual conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.
The numbers will drive — among other things — a 178% increase in the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), Friedman said during a media briefing aimed at raising a red flag over the issue.
“An epidemic is upon us that we have not fully recognized,” he said, adding “primary care providers don’t appreciate that many of their patients are harboring a silent disease.”
But it’s not just that doctors themselves don’t recognize the issue, commented Arun Sanyal, MD, of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. “This is a social problem” that needs greater awareness on the part of healthcare providers, the public and the politicians, he said.
Rising rates of obesity are the force behind the epidemic of NAFLD, an umbrella term covering a spectrum that begins with accumulation of fat in the liver, followed by ballooning, scarring, cirrhosis, and eventually liver failure, cancer, and death.
Try eating more eggs and going Gary Taubes.