Approximately one-fourth of the general population worldwide has nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, known as NAFLD, an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol.
NAFLD can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure.
In a study from the University of California San Diego, scientists found that first-degree relatives of patients with NAFLD characterized by advanced fibrosis are at a 15% risk of developing the condition.
The results shine a spotlight on the importance of early screening of both siblings and offspring of patients with NAFLD.
Until now, first-degree relatives accompanying their loved ones with liver disease for medical treatment didn’t know they were at a greater risk of developing advanced fibrosis themselves
In the study, the team examined nearly 400 first-degree relatives enrolled in two independent cohorts from the United States and Finland.
Liver fibrosis was evaluated using magnetic resonance elastography and other noninvasive imaging modalities.
The results have given researchers the scientific evidence needed to recommend routine screenings for advanced fibrosis among first-degree relatives of patients with cirrhosis or advanced fibrosis.
The team says siblings and offspring of patients should be evaluated around age 40 or 50. The findings could change the standard of care for this high-risk population.
The researchers add that educating first-degree relatives about risk factors, including excessive drinking, weight gain and a sedentary lifestyle are also key.
Many liver disease-related genes modify based upon a person’s lifestyle and what they eat.
That means first-degree relatives can help prevent developing advanced fibrosis if they are aware of the risk and willing to make lifestyle modifications
Patients should be informed of what their risk is because then they are more likely to change their behavior and lifestyle.
If you care about liver health, please read studies that people with diabetes need to prevent this dangerous liver disease and a green Mediterranean diet could cut fatty liver disease by 50% liver.
For more information about liver health, please see recent studies about oral diseases linked to a 75% increase in liver cancer risk, and results showing a new way to treat chronic liver disease.
The study was conducted by Rohit Loomba et al and published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
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