Increased risk for liver cancer found in NAFLD patients
Being the most serious form of liver disease, liver cancer is on the rise globally. While we have always known that liver cancer doesn’t develop overnight, there have not been many studies that investigate the potential risks for liver cancer for patients with liver diseases. According to a recent research conducted by the AGA Institute, it was found out that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients have a higher risk of developing a dangerous liver cancer called hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
The research makes use of data of nearly 300,000 NAFLD patients and a similar number of people with healthy livers. It was found out that there are 50 cases of HCC for every 5,000 patients with NAFLD, while there was roughly 1 case of HCC in every 50,000 patients with healthy livers.
NAFLD is not to be taken lightly
NAFLD is the most common form of liver problem in developed countries. As the name of it suggests, a person is considered to have a fatty liver when the liver fat content is higher than 5%. Because of the affluent lifestyle that people in developed countries tend to have, more and more adults are being diagnosed with this silent disease.
When fatty liver disease is not monitored or treated, it could progress to NASH, which is the most serious type of NAFLD where the liver is inflamed and the liver cells are being damaged. Even though not many patients who have fatty liver would have NASH, it is still crucial for patients to start liver protection as early as possible, given the above study confirming the increased risk for liver cancer in NAFLD patients.
Protection is always better than cure
NAFLD patients have to bear in mind that currently there is no cure for NAFLD or liver cancer. However, it doesn’t mean there is nothing for patients to do. Maintaining strong liver cell repair power is important to prevent NAFLD from progressing. When the liver can repair itself like normal, chronic inflammation would not be able to take place. It might even be possible to reverse the condition when the stage of NAFLD is still early.
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- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.