As much as 160 million people worldwide live with a scary liver disease right at this moment with a significant percentage not even aware that they have it.
People with type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity have a higher risk of developing this liver disease but it is difficult to find and even tougher to treat. Unfortunately, a lot of people have never even heard of it.
This relatively unknown liver disease is known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH for short, and it’s a type of fatty liver disease that’s every bit as nasty as the version alcoholics suffer from. While having a liver lined with fat is distressingly common, it is estimated that this disease affects about 64 million Americans. In most people the fat buildup doesn’t trigger life-threatening health troubles.
With NASH sufferers, however, the liver becomes inflamed, which can lead to the permanent scarring known as cirrhosis and an increased risk for liver cancer. Some experts believe NASH will surpass hepatitis infections as the biggest reason for liver transplants by 2020.
The big question is why have doctors and patients ignored this dangerous disease for so long? It’s because they didn’t see it. Symptoms are scarcely seen in patients with early stages of NASH. To test for it, a liver biopsy is required and this involves removing cells from your liver using a small needle.
Even then, it might be too late; the disease often leads to problems like liver failure, and no treatments currently exist.
There’s however good news. You can prevent NASH right now by losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight and diet. Plus, doctors and pharmaceutical companies are pounding the pavement to develop a treatment. They currently have a test drug in the works, with an expected approval date in 2019.
If you’re a diabetic who needs to lose weight, you may have a higher risk for NASH, so do all you can to adjust your diet.