Fatty liver is a silent killer. How is it so?

I saw a report in Straits Times 24 March issue about a retiree Madam Ler Ah Muay. After she got married and had kids, she was caught up with work and family life. She ate what she likes and what was convenient. The high caloric diet led to diabetes in 10 years and last year, she was diagnosed with Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFD). The liver became inflamed and eventually became scarred. She also developed liver cancer, a complication sometimes affect people with fatty liver.

In our modern living with meeting the challenges and demands from work and family life, doesn’t Madam Ler Ah Muay’s lifestyle sound familiar?

Especially in Singapore, where we pride ourselves in being a food paradise, having a wide variety of food that is easily available.  We need to have our favorite fried kway teow, nasi lemak or chicken rice regularly. We do not really think much about it until the disease caught up with us in the later years.

Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is the accumulation of fat in the liver of people who drink little or no alcohol. The build up of fats could be caused by:

  • Obesity
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High triglycerides
  • Use of certain drugs such as corticosteroids ( cortisone, prednisone)

There are no signs, symptoms or complications from this disease. If you feel tired most of the time for no reasons and the skin has a bit of yellowish tinge, they may be indications. You will only know from ultrasound scan that the liver is enlarged and there may be some liver enzyme in the blood test. The only way is to do a liver biopsy ; taking a small sample of liver for examination.

The basic and fundamental way of treating fatty liver is to reduce the weight to normal BMI of 23 (for Asians) and reduce the body fat. You do this by cutting down calorie intake with low fat diet and exercise regularly. For more information on weight loss, refer to my earlier post on losing fats.

Fatty liver is reversible if you take action now. In the case of Madam Ler’s condition, it was too late. Liver cirrhosis (hardening of scar tissues) and liver cancer rob her of 80% of her liver function and she needs a liver transplant.

If you know of anybody with fatty liver, please pass this information to him or her. Contact me if you need more info on how to reverse fatty liver.

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