A new study warns people with type 2 diabetes are at greater risk of developing liver cancer and liver cirrhosis. Many patients in Europe, who are being diagnosed with the condition at a late stage, have been found to have increased risk of these medical conditions, according to researchers.
The study involved 18 million people from across Europe. Experts say patients need to be carefully monitored in order to prevent the life-threatening disease from progressing. The most common cause of liver disease across the globe is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). It is a condition that is strongly linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers reveal one in six people develop an aggressive form ofNAFLD, which is known as Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH). This can cause more severe health issues like liver injury, scarring,cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer. The study's results showed close to 136,000 patients were identified as having either NAFLD or NASH. They were also likely to have type 2 diabetes and hypertension. The team also discovered patients withNAFLD/NASHwere highly likely to be diagnosed with liver cancer or cirrhosis.
However, early interventions could help identify patients at risk of the health issue in order to provide proper treatment before it gets serious. "We were surprised that the number of patients with recorded diagnoses of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver was much less than expected, which means that many patients are actually undiagnosed in primary care," lead researcher Dr William Alazawi, told a news portal. Adding, "Even over the short time frame of the study, some patients progressed to more advanced, life-threatening stages of the disease, suggesting that they are being diagnosed very late."
Alazawi hopes the findings will urge doctors, policymakers and public to implement strategies and protect themselves from this silent killer. "Doctors treating patients with diabetes already have a lot to check on - eyes, kidneys, heart risks - but these results remind us that we should not neglect the liver, nor forget to consider the possibility of NASH. They also remind us that perhaps more efforts are needed to help our patients with diabetes lose weight and cut alcohol," Naveed Sattar, one of the researchers of the study, told a news portal.
The study's findings were published in the journal BMC Medicine.