When my mom passed away at 62 years old six weeks after being diagnosed with a disease I’d never heard of before, it sent me searching for answers. NASH is still widely unknown and the etiology is not well understood. Yes, it is largely linked to obesity, but there are many other risk factors that seem to be playing a role. One such factor that I discovered last year was the link between hypothyroidism and NASH, which my mom had for decades.
Recently I have been working on some projects on how the liver works, and found myself intrigued when writing about the function of the gallbladder. For those that are unaware, its main function is storing bile to be used in the digestion of fats. As I wrote about it, alarm bells began ringing in my head. NASH is the end stage of fatty liver disease, caused by an excess buildup of fat in the liver.
Gallbladder surgery (known as cholecystectomy) is one of the most common surgical procedures in the world, with over 600,000 procedures performed annually in the USA. It is considered completely safe with no long-term negative effects. My mom had her gallbladder removed years ago after suffering gallstones, as is the standard medically recommended procedure. I wondered if there was any studies on possible links between it and NASH, and began searching.
Tony is a NASH transplant survivor and the founder of the NASH Education Corporation, a Pittsburgh-based non-profit focusing on increasing awareness and providing educational materials for NASH. I’ve been wanting to write about patients living with NASH for quite some time and Tony was generous enough to agree to an interview for a profile piece, the first ever on NASH AWARE.
A new study from New York Presbyterian Hospital has some eyebrow-raising findings. We already know that drinking coffee is good for the liver, but you would expect to find less evidence of a positive relationship with alcohol. Yes, there have been plenty of studies that show a glass of wine can be good for you, but never one that highlighted an actual positive link.
From Medscape comes an informative article about the growing problem of NAFLD & NASH. The article presents the troubling projections in the growth of non-alcoholic liver diseases in the USA.
The current worldwide prevalence of NAFLD is approaching 25%. The prevalence of NAFLD in the United States is increasing, owing to a rising incidence of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus.[8,9] Current US projections indicate a 21% increase in NAFLD numbers, leading to a 33.5% overall prevalence by 2030. Coupled with a 63% increase in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), there will be a 168% increase in the number of patients with decompensated end-stage liver disease, and a 137% increase in the numbers of patients developing HCC from NAFLD. The growing numbers of NAFLD patients with hepatic fibrosis indicate that end-stage liver disease from NAFLD will probably become the most common reason for liver transplantation in the United States.
The rest of the article talks about and summarizes all of the useful information available, from lean NASH to treatment options, and includes updated guidance from AASLD (American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases).
There is not a wide amount of awareness of NASH even among the highest at-risk adults, but there is also an increasingly worrying trend of increased NAFLD & NASH diagnosis in children, some extremely young. Alarmingly, studies have found that progression from NALFD to more advanced NASH was quicker and more severe than in adults.
There isn’t a lot of empirical data available on younger children and the disease, but several studies have been undertaken in an attempt to understand the prevalence of the disease.