There’s some promising news about a hormone therapy for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Read on, but first, let’s put things into context with some practical, real-life background stuff…
How was your last check-up? You know, your annual exam and physical that includes blood work, something every doctor should order for patients over the age of 30? Yeah, that one. Well, with obesity on the rise in the United States at alarming rates—and I’m not just talking about morbid obesity—it’s no wonder that more and more people are developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
I don’t know where and when the obesity thing happened but am guessing it has something to do with advances in FAST FOOD and technology? Sound logical?
Logic aside, the key issue is that NAFLD can lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which can cause even further damage and complications.
Having a sister who was formerly obese, I feel like I know what I’m talking about. Yes, she weighed in at more than 200 pounds on her 5’5 frame and also was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Fortunately, when her doctor diagnosed her with NAFLD, a condition that two other close family members had, she was compelled to abide by her doctor’s proposed treatment plan.
To make a long story short, my sister lost 70 pounds which she’s kept off for 15 years. Why didn’t she decide to just accept the fact that she was “heavy” and make the most of it? Because aside from significant weight loss, there are no FDA-approved medications for NAFLD and NASH! Nothing.
The Good News, Bad News:
The good news? Losing weight, following a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise at least three times a week can reduce fat in the liver associated with NASH and NAFLD.
The bad news? For some, losing a significant amount of weight, no matter how you do it, is a challenge. Plus, you have to KEEP it off in order to benefit your liver. Most people can lose weight, but I’ve read that approximately 90 percent of those people regain the weight—and then some.
BUT WAIT—THERE’S MORE GOOD NEWS!
Scientists in Japan have discovered that a hormone called IGF-I is showing promise to help reduce liver damage, NASH, and complications in mice during a clinical trial at a major university. You can read an interesting article about it here.
It worked to reduce the steatosis found in the liver, as well as cirrhosis and inflammation. Scientists learned that the hormone helped to actually prevent fibrosis and improve the overall liver function in people who have developed cirrhosis.
This means there is hope for people who have NASH. With the hormone treatment, it has shown significant reductions in inflammation. This is significant.
Unless we help to spread more awareness about NASH, more and more people will be facing serious health problems. Already, there is a 50 percent higher rate of death in people who have NASH than NAFLD. And currently, most people don’t know they have NASH because it’s basically symptom-less until end-stage.
That being said, I just wonder, how long will it take before the IGE-l hormone can be made into a treatment? I remain positive. Very. I hope you do, too.