Study Finds NAFLD Rates Rising on Global Scale

In late June 2022, Patient Worthy discussed how doctors and scientists were concerned about rising rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in Filipinos. But according to new research, the Filipino community is not the only community affected by this increasing prevalence. In fact, shares Medscape, the research shows that NAFLD is much more common than researchers previously thought – and that the rates continue to rise rapidly. 

To determine this, the research team utilized data from 89 publications, including sample populations of between 382,000 – 1,000,000 people. Prior research estimated that 15-30% of people globally have NAFLD. Within this study, which you can find in Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, the researchers suggest that the number is on the high end of that spectrum, sitting at around 32.4%. Additionally, the research found that the disease is more significantly more common in males than females; has been increasing by around 37.8% per year; and is significantly more common in Africa and North America than in Asia or Europe. 

Ultimately, given the growing prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, this study seeks to raise awareness and educate physicians on how to care for this patient community. 

About Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the umbrella term which encompasses nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and simple fatty liver. Altogether, NAFLD refers to the accumulation of excess liver fat that is not associated with alcohol consumption. The cause of this accumulation is unknown. However, doctors and researchers surmise that high blood sugar, obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and blood fat levels, metabolic syndrome, sleep apnea, an underactive thyroid or pituitary gland, and older age increase the risk of developing this condition. In many cases, those with this condition do not experience symptoms. If and when symptoms appear, they could include:

  • Fatigue
  • Upper right abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin, eyes, and mucus membranes)
  • Red palms
  • Enlarged blood vessels and enlarged spleen
  • Cirrhosis (complication)
  • Liver cancer (complication)
  • Cardiovascular disease (complication)
  • Liver failure (complication) 
Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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