Fatty liver risk could be hiding in our genes?
Fatty liver disease is often found in people with obesity or diabetes. However, people who appear healthy and have a normal weight might also have this problem – have you ever wondered why? Someone could live a healthy lifestyle and don't have any obvious risk factors for NAFLD, but could still have an elevated ALT level (commonly a first indicator of fatty liver disease). Why is it the case? Recent research discovered that our genes are to be blamed.
New genetic cause of fatty liver uncovered
A recent research conducted by the Westmead Institute for Medical Research found that, genetics may also play a role in a person’s risk of developing fatty liver disease.
The research identified 3 genetic variants that are linked to NAFLD. The more variants a person has in their genes, the more likely they are to have fat build-up in the liver.
Currently there is still no official way to detect if someone has the 3 specific genetic variants. That means even if you don’t have the typical risk factors of NAFLD such as diabetes or obesity, you could still be at higher risk for fatty liver because of your genes.
Liver protection against the genetic risk of NAFLD
Given the new research findings, it is not just important, but also necessary, to pay extra attention to our liver health. NAFLD has become an alarming health concern globally, affecting one in four people in western countries.
Commonly known as the silent killer, NAFLD often shows no symptoms, and most of the time people only address the problem when the condition becomes advanced. And most importantly, NAFLD is a disease with no medical cure or treatment available. Doctors are often left with no choice but to only ask the patients to go on diets or make lifestyles changes.
At present there is no test available for the general public regarding one’s genetic compositions, therefore the best way to prevent NAFLD or to reverse early stages of fatty liver disease is to maintain good liver health and start liver protection early. Bear in mind that the best way against NAFLD is prevention, not cure.
Tackling NAFLD at the pre-disease stage
Despite the possible serious outcomes of NAFLD, fatty liver disease is highly reversible in the early stages. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, it is often easier to treat a disease before it starts showing symptoms.
While eating healthily and exercising regularly do help in the prevention of NAFLD, they might not be sufficient when the risk of developing NAFLD lies in our genes. Though we cannot control how our genes would affect our liver, we can always offer better protection for our liver against injuries from internal and external factors. In such a way, many liver diseases can be prevented.
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.