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Liver Disease | Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: When The Culprit Is Diet, Not Drinking

If you thought you’d heard just about all the unpleasant possible side effects of a poor diet and lack of exercise, try these on for size: Dementia. Clumsiness. Vomiting blood. (I figured that last one would jerk you awake.) These are some of the symptoms of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and what makes NFLD particularly treacherous is that these are just about the only signs or symptoms of this condition. In other words, by the time you’re aware of it, it’s already gotten heart-attack serious.

The semi-fortunate aspect of this is that in 70 to 80 percent of those who have NFLD, it doesn’t progress to become a medical crisis. What makes it only semi-fortunate is that this is an astonishingly widespread condition : fully one-third of the American public has it in some form, and although only 20 to 30 percent will go on to develop cirrhosis and end-stage liver disease, that still works out to some 6 million people, a disturbing number, especially to those whose job it is to supply transplant organs.

Some NFLD basics : It occurs when the liver’s ability to break down fats degrades, and the fat that accumulates in the liver then causes inflammation and scarring, which can lead to liver failure, the only cure for which is a new liver. We’re basically talking cirrhosis, but in this case caused by fat instead of liquor. All the misery with none of the fun.

There are so many medical and health conditions linked to NFLD that it’s impossible to nail down one primary cause, but it’s hard not to apply the rule, “When you hear hoofbeats, it’s probably a horse and not a zebra.” When you have a medical

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