Major medical advances have been made in treating hepatitis C and other chronic liver diseases, but America faces an expanding epidemic of liver disease that's linked to obesity, says an article published in the New York Times.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which causes the liver to enlarge with fat, has more than doubled in the past 20 years among teens and adults. Now, at least 20 percent of American adults and about 10 percent of children have the condition, which is caused by overeating and a lack of exercise, and creates damage similar to that seen in alcoholics. There are no drugs to treat the disease, and it's fast becoming a major cause of transplants.
"The equivalent of this is foie gras," said Dr. Joel E. Lavine, the chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. "You have to force feed ducks to get fatty liver, but people seem to be able to develop it on their own," he told the New York Times.
Often there are no obvious symptoms of the disease, but people with fatty liver disease face a much higher risk for heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. More severe forms can cause cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
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