Scientists find the best treatment for metabolic liver disease

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Metabolic surgery, also known as bariatric surgery, is a more effective treatment than medications and lifestyle changes for advanced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

This is the finding of a new study by King’s College London and the Catholic University of Rome published in The Lancet.

What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. It affects more than half of people with type 2 diabetes and three-quarters of those with obesity.

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the progressive form of the disease, which can lead to liver failure and liver cancer, and is one of the leading causes of liver transplant in the Western world.

How does metabolic surgery work?

Metabolic surgery is a type of weight loss surgery that can help reduce liver inflammation and damage.

It can also improve fibrosis, which is scarring of the liver tissue that can cause liver complications, cardiovascular problems, and even death.

What did the study find?

The study compared the effectiveness of bariatric and metabolic surgery to lifestyle changes and medical care in 288 patients with NASH.

The results showed that surgery was more effective in inducing a complete reversal of inflammation and cell damage in the liver, the core characteristics of NASH, without worsening liver fibrosis after one year from surgery.

The probability of achieving NASH reversal was three to five times higher with metabolic surgery than with medical care.

Surgery was also more effective at achieving improvement of at least one stage of liver fibrosis.

What does this mean for patients?

The study shows that metabolic surgery is an effective treatment for NASH, a condition that has been difficult to treat with medication and lifestyle changes.

The ability of surgery to control and improve fibrosis associated with NASH is especially important, as fibrosis is the main predictor of liver complications and poor cardiovascular outcomes and death in patients with NASH.

What are the next steps?

The study’s authors recommend that metabolic surgery should be prioritized for patients with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes who have NASH.

While both gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy procedures were equally effective at improving NASH, gastric bypass was more effective than sleeve gastrectomy at improving type 2 diabetes and reducing other cardiovascular risk factors associated with NAFLD/NASH.

How to prevent metabolic liver disease

Metabolic liver disease, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is a condition that occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver cells.

NAFLD is a growing health concern worldwide and is associated with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.

Here are some steps you can take to prevent metabolic liver disease:

Maintain a healthy weight: One of the biggest risk factors for NAFLD is obesity. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can reduce the risk of developing metabolic liver disease.

Exercise regularly: Exercise can help reduce the amount of fat in the liver and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week.

Eat a healthy diet: A diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help prevent metabolic liver disease. Avoiding processed foods, sugary drinks, and foods high in saturated and trans fats can also be helpful.

Control your blood sugar: High blood sugar levels can contribute to the development of metabolic liver disease. If you have diabetes, work with your healthcare provider to keep your blood sugar levels under control.

Limit alcohol intake: Alcohol can damage the liver and worsen existing liver conditions, including NAFLD. Men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.

Avoid unnecessary medications: Certain medications, such as corticosteroids, can increase the risk of developing metabolic liver disease. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of any medications you are taking.

Get regular check-ups: Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help identify and manage any risk factors for metabolic liver disease.

In summary, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, controlling your blood sugar, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding unnecessary medications, and getting regular check-ups are all important steps you can take to prevent metabolic liver disease.

If you care about liver health, please read studies about dairy foods linked to liver cancer, and coffee drinkers may halve their risk of liver cancer.

For more information about liver health, please see recent studies that alternate day fasting could benefit people with fatty liver disease, and results showing vitamin D could help prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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