APR 16, 2016 2:33 PM PDT

What is Fatty Liver Disease?

WRITTEN BY: Julianne Chiaet

Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat in the liver makes up over 5 to 10 percent of the liver's weight. The disease is common among middle-aged Americans and is becoming more widespread due to the worsening obesity epidemic. Heavy drinking and alcoholism are the most common causes of fatty liver disease. Obesity, diabetes, and high cholesterol are the three most common causes of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In the early stages of the disease, most patients don't experience symptoms and the condition is still reversible. Many patients never feel symptoms of their disease. However, if they continue to have excess fat in the liver, they can experience chronic inflammation of the liver and complete scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). In some cases, the disease causes liver failure, liver cancer, and the need for liver transplantation.

There is no cure for fatty liver disease, but it can be managed by avoiding alcohol and sugar, losing weight, and watching your cholesterol. Doctors recommend consuming lean meat, eating more vegetables, and avoiding foods that are high in refined sugar, such as bread, rice, and potatoes.

Recent studies have suggested drinking two or three cups of coffee a day help prevent liver cancer and failure in patients who are already diagnosed with the disease.
About the Author
  • Julianne (@JuliChiaet) covers health and medicine for LabRoots. Her work has been published in The Daily Beast, Scientific American, and MailOnline. While primarily a science journalist, she has also covered culture and Japanese organized crime. She is the New York Board Representative for the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA). • To read more of her writing, or to send her a message, go to Jchiaet.com
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