Diabetics 70% More Likely To Die From Liver Disease

U.S. NAFLD Epidemic May Have Global Ripple Effect

PEOPLE with diabetes are 70 percent more likely to die from liver disease than people without the condition, according to research being presented this week at the Diabetes UK Annual Professional Conference. Previous studies have found a link between diabetes and liver disease and this research adds to that knowledge, says a Diabetes UK press release.

Using electronic records linked to death records, researchers compared deaths from liver disease in people with and without diabetes aged 35 to 84 years between 2001 and 2007.

Among the 1,267 people with diabetes and 10,100 people without diabetes who died of liver disease, one in four (24 percent) people with diabetes died from hepato-cellular cancer (HCC), a complication of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, compared to one in ten (9 percent) people without diabetes.

The proportion of deaths from alcoholic liver disease was greater in the population without diabetes (63 percent) compared to those with diabetes (38 percent). Overall people with diabetes were 70 percent more likely to die of liver disease than people without diabetes.

Diabetes UK Director of Research, Dr Iain Frame, said: “The best defence against liver disease if you have diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight and be as physically active as possible. Your doctor may also recommend regular testing of your liver function if you take medications that could potentially affect your liver.  We now need further investigation into how diabetes affects the liver to find new methods of preventing this complication.”

Lead researcher Dr Sarah Wild, from the University of Edinburgh, said: “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become much more common recently, particularly among people with diabetes.

“The major risk factor for NAFLD is being overweight which is also an important risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. NAFLD increases the risk of cirrhosis which in turn increases the risk of liver cancer. A healthy lifestyle can reduce risk of NAFLD and prevention is particularly important because the options for treatment are limited.”

Fatty Liver Ups Type 2 Diabetes Risk

Meanwhile, according to new data presented last week at the International Liver Congress, the United States (U.S.) could soon be faced with an epidemic of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), one of the major contributing factors of chronic liver disease (CLD), considered as one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, says a European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL) press release.

The study highlights that if the current rates of obesity and diabetes continue for another two decades, the prevalence of NAFLD in the US is expected to increase by 50% in 2030.

The study analysed pre-existing clinical survey data over a 10 year period (1988-1994, 1999-2004 and 2005-2008), which included 39,500 adults from three survey cycles. Over the three cycles the prevalence of NAFLD doubled from 5.51% to 11.0% respectively.

Furthermore, during the first survey cycle (1988-1994) 46.8% of all CLD’s was related to NAFLD but by 2005-2008 this had increased to 75.1%. In addition, the prevalence of obesity and diabetes, the two key risk factors for NAFLD also steadily increased.

Mark Thursz EASL’s Vice Secretary commented: “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is fast becoming one of the top concerns for clinicians due to the obesity epidemic and it’s potential to progress to advanced liver disease which significantly impacts on overall liver-related mortality.

“This data highlights a serious concern for the future, and the enormous increasing health burden of NAFLD. If the obesity epidemic is anything to go by, the U.S. NAFLD epidemic may have a ripple effect worldwide.

“It is imperative that health systems continue to drive effective educational programmes to reinforce awareness among the general public to alert them of the risks of obesity and promote the importance of diet and exercise.”

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