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Apr 26, 2012

Healthy Living examines liver diseases

Poor lifestyle choices are continuously wreaking havoc on our bodies. Whether it is uncontrolled diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity or your vice is excessive alcohol drinking, your body may not show the outward effects immediately. Fatty Liver disease is one effect of these poor choices. It is an asymptomatic condition that can be reversed; however, if not addressed can lead to dangerous complications to your liver.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Imagine fat accumulating in an area of your body that you can’t see or feel. This is exactly what happens when you develop fatty liver disease. As one of the largest organs in the body, the liver has numerous functions. It processes nutrients from food, makes bile, removes toxins from the body and builds proteins. Gastroenterologist, Dr mark Musa, explains that there is a healthy amount fat found in the liver. Fatty Liver disease is when it exceeds what is considered normal.

 

Dr. Mark Musa, Gastroenterologist

Mark Musa

“Fatty liver is due to the build of excess fat in the tissue. The liver can only withstand about ten percent of its weight as fat but when we start gaining weight or for other factors fat start to deposit in the liver; particularly when it gets to about thirty percent of its weight. It starts to damage the liver.”

 

This invasion of fat into the liver can be caused by multiple things. The most common though; has to do with your lifestyle choices.

 

Dr. Mark Musa

“In terms of the causes it’s divided into two broad groups. In the past alcohol use to be the most  common cause of fat building up in the liver and that’s kinda the first stage of how the liver reacts to any insult or injury due to a variety of causes. What is becoming more common is something called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and that is due to the rising incidences of obesity, type two diabetes, high triglycerides and cholesterol and if you have all those together; we call it the metabolic syndrome.”

 

Fatty Liver is considered the simplest stage in damaging the liver. There are no symptoms that indicate fat accumulating; however, if not diagnosed and poor lifestyle choices continue then serious complications follow.

 

Dr. Mark Musa

“It is asymptomatic in the majority of people. The way we actually pick it up is that maybe it’ll be found in your annual checkup. If you do a liver function check as a part of that check up. Fatty liver is the first phase of damage to the liver, the majority of people will be at that stage. And that stage is actually reversible so if you do something about the fact; if you stop drinking, damage is reduce, if you lose weight, if you control your diabetes; if you control your cholesterol and triglycerides, it’s actually reversible. If you go looking for fatty liver in children, it is there; if we’re talking about obese children. Now that development from fatty liver to cirrhosis takes something of up to twenty years. Not everybody who has fatty liver will develop cirrhosis. So it is important that you modify those other risk factors in order to reduce your risk.”

 

Persons who consume excessive alcohol and women are more susceptible to developing fatty liver as well.

 

Dr. Mark Musa

“Females have a more severe chance of developing more fatty liver; it’s felt that it is due to hormonal reasons. The same reasons females can’t tolerate much alcohol in terms of the damage—the amount that causes damage—is far less in a female than in a man.”

 

Treatment depends on the underlying cause; curbing whatever vice may have led to fatty liver. But early detection is crucial.

 

Dr. Mark Musa

“It is important to realize that there is a major limitation in picking up that transition between just pure fatty liver to developing hepatitis and developing cirrhosis. If you have these other conditions, it’s important to go looking for it. So if you’ve been a diabetic, if you’re very overweight, if you have high cholesterol and triglycerides; it is important to also check the liver function. As part of your regular check up, making sure that your doctor includes a liver function test. Getting that information and being told you have fatty liver you then have to be prepared to do something about it.”

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