Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty Liver Overview
Fatty liver disease is characterized by increased accumulation of fat, especially triglycerides, in the liver cells. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat and by itself, this causes no symptoms. In some patients, the excess fat can cause inflammation called steatohepatitis (steato=fat+hepar=liver +itis=inflammation), although there is no relationship between the amount of fat present and the potential for inflammation.
Steatohepatitis can lead to cirrhosis (fibrosis, scarring and hardening of the liver). There is also an association with liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
Fatty Liver Causes
Fatty liver can be classified as alcohol and nonalcohol related. Alcohol is a direct toxin to the liver and can cause inflammation. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic related steatohepatitis (NASH) are markedly different illnesses and there are many potential causes that are linked to fat accumulation in the liver.
Some of the causes of fatty liver include:
- Diet: Consumption of excess calories in the diet (the excess caloric intake overwhelms the liver's ability to metabolize fat in a normal fashion, which results in fat accumulation in the liver).
- Diseases: Fatty liver is also associated with type II diabetes, obesity, and high triglyceride levels in the blood, celiac disease, and Wilson's disease (abnormality of copper metabolism).
- Medical conditions: Rapid weight loss and malnutrition.
- Medications: Medications such as tamoxifen (Soltamox), amiodarone injection (Nestorone), amiodarone oral (Cordarone, Pacerone), and methotrexate (Rheumatrex Dose Pack, Trexall) are associated with NAFLD.
There is evidence to suggest the presence of an association between insulin resistance and the development of NAFLD. In this situation, although the body makes adequate insulin, the ability of cells to adequately use that insulin to metabolize glucose is abnormal. The relative excess of glucose is then stored as fat and can accumulate in the liver.
Picture of the Liver the Largest Gland in the Body
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/30/2014
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