Most people looking to lose weight turn to diets hoping to get fast results. However, a new study warns these diets can harm your liver and may lead to liver cancer.
Many experts worry nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is becoming a common issue for many. It occurs when there is a build-up of extra fat in the liver and could lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis. “In clinic, I used to see mostly hepatitis C patients. Now, most of the patients I see have fatty liver disease,” Hugo Rosen, a liver disease specialist and chair of medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, told a news portal. Adding, “It’s a problem that closely tracks with the emergence of obesity and diabetes throughout the world.”
Experts want people to be aware of the risks because many people are developing the condition. “It’s a really important issue to be aware of,” Rosen told a news portal. Adding, “Patients with NAFLD have at least a twofold risk of dying of a coronary event or having a stroke.”
Research from a Mayo Clinic study found NAFLD can make it more likely for cancer to develop. Experts also warn those following fad diets that increase the risk of liver disease, a "silent killer", to take precaution as they may not be aware of the harmful impact until the damage is done. Symptoms of the condition often go undetected.
Those worried about developing NAFLD should get liver blood tests and imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound to determine if they are at risk.
While vitamin E and a diabetes drug can help some patients, there currently is not drug developed to treat the condition. This is one of the reasons fad diets and unhealthy eating habits can have a damaging impact. Animal studies have found diets like the keto could lead to NAFLD as you eat more fats and fewer carbohydrates. Rosen says keto might be appealing as “you can eat a lot of tasty stuff — butter, red meat, cheese.”
“But you’re basically consuming 80% of your caloric intake from fat. It certainly makes sense why, in rodents, we’re seeing that this causes NAFLD,” he further explained.
Eat a well-balanced diet to improve your liver health and overall health. “Some data have shown that a paleo diet has a significant and persistent effect on lowering liver fat compared to a low-fat diet, simply because a low-fat diet isn’t palatable to a lot of people,” Rosen told a news portal.
Rosen also hopes health providers learn more about NAFL. “There definitely needs to be enhanced education of primary care providers to think of NAFLD and how frequently it occurs,” Rosen told a news portal. Adding, “You’re talking about one out of every three patients you see in clinic.”
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