This New Tool Can Detect Fatty Liver Disease Before It Happens
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a term that covers a range of liver diseases where patients have high amounts of fat content in their liver cells. It is becoming increasingly more common worldwide, especially in western nations.
NAFLD is the most common form of chronic liver disease in the United States, affecting between 80 and 100 million people of all ages, including children.
It is found in people who drink little or no alcohol.
NAFLD is associated with other ailments including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
It can sometimes lead to fibrosis of the liver, which is when the tissue starts to become scarred, leading it to not function correctly.
Symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease
There usually aren’t a lot of noticeable signs or symptoms of fatty liver disease, which is why it is important to be checked by a doctor if you are starting to feel or see any of the following symptoms:
- Pain in your upper abdomen
- Jaundice (yellowing of skin and whites of eyes)
- Enlarged liver
If things go unchecked, you may find yourself suffering from other liver ailments including liver fibrosis.
Advanced liver fibrosis is when the liver tissue becomes so damaged and scarred that that it is unable to properly work
11 Symptoms of Liver Fibrosis
- Ascites – abdominal swelling
- Enlarged blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface
- Swollen breasts in men
- Inflamed spleen
- Red palms
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Buildup of fluid in the legs or stomach
- Unexplained weight loss
- General weakness and fatigue
From there it can only get worse, leading to cirrhosis which is when the liver starts to fail. Once you reach cirrhosis, it becomes incredibly difficult to reverse the damage done to your liver. This is why it is important to detect fibrosis early on.
Causes of Fatty Liver Disease
It is still rather unknown what exactly causes NAFLD. But studies have shown ties between the disease and insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that your body’s muscle and tissue use to help transport glucose for energy. It also helps your liver store glucose when you have excessive amounts.
When your body resists insulin, you will begin to have a build of glucose and fat in the liver, leading to scarring and inflammation.
The New Tool to Stop Liver Disease in its Track
Beyond insulin rejection, there are many reasons why you may have NAFLD – but in the past it has been proven difficult to diagnose the specific reason
PRO-C3 Biological Marker
At the Westmead Institute for Medical Research, a new score based on the PRO-C3 biological marker is being developed to accurately predict advanced liver fibrosis in those diagnosed with NAFLD
The score was developed after discovering that in the 431 patients from around the world, PRO-C3 progressively increases as patients’ livers became more and more scarred.
Once they combined the score with routine physical data (age, blood platelet count, presence of diabetes), the researchers found they could accurately diagnose 92 percent of patients that would go on to have advanced fibrosis
It was also found that these patients were the ones most likely to have increased health issues
NAFLD can lead to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as well as heart disease. The buildup of fatty tissue can also lead to the liver becoming more scarred and, once that happens, the organ will begin to shrink – leading to greater possibilities of liver failure and cancer.
With all of these factors considered, it becomes clear how crucial it is to catch liver fibrosis ahead of time.
More studies still need to be done before it becomes a regularly administered test, but this is starting to look like a very important tool that can help many people all over the world avoid rather complicated health issues.
In the meantime, if you are starting to see any of the previously mentioned symptoms you should be sure to visit a doctor to get a screening to make sure you aren’t suffering from non alcoholic fatty liver disease or other ailments. He should be able to help you find a way to best remedy the situation so you can start living a healthy, happier life
Nall, Rachel. “Liver Fibrosis.” Edited by Alana Biggers, Healthline, 11 Jan. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/liver-fibrosis.
“Cirrhosis.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 7 Dec. 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351487.
“Insulin Resistance Syndrome (Metabolic Syndrome).” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/insulin-resistance-syndrome.
Westmead Institute for Medical Research. “New Tool to Detect Fatty Liver Disease before Liver Damage.” ScienceDaily, ScienceDaily, 12 Sept. 2018, www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180912091042.htm.
Roland, James. “Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease.” Edited by Graham Rogers, Healthline, 27 June 2017, www.healthline.com/health/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease.