The liver is the second largest organ in the body. Its function is to process everything we eat or drink and filter out any harmful substances from the blood. When there is too much fat in one’s liver, the filtration process is interrupted and can become a health problem.
It is estimated that 25% of the world has Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), a precursor to NASH or Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis. NASH is associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It is now the most common liver disorder in the United States and the number one reason for liver transplants.
Starting as Fatty Liver Disease and then progressing to NASH, the buildup of fat in the liver can lead to inflammation of the liver and liver cell damage. Progression of NASH leads to fibrosis or stiffening of the liver and cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. NAFLD and NASH are both silent diseases with few symptoms even if the diseases progress to cirrhosis.
Physicians can monitor liver function blood tests as well as abdominal ultrasounds and liver Fibroscans to determine if you are at risk of developing NAFLD and NASH. However, the only way to definitely determine of you have NASH is to perform a liver biopsy.
The most common treatment for fatty liver disease is weight loss to reduce the fat in the liver. It is estimated that losing up to 3 to 5% of your body weight can help reduce the fat in the liver. Losing 10% of body weight may help reduce inflammation and even fibrosis in the liver. Currently, there are no medications which have been approved to treat fatty liver disease; however, many are in late stage development with promising results.
To learn more about current clinical trial opportunities for fatty liver disease and NASH, please contact us.