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What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease?

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Updated May 09, 2014

Definition:

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver, the largest internal organ of the body. While the symptoms are virtually identical to those that accompany alcohol abuse, little or no alcohol consumption is involved.

The disease may progress from simple fat deposits, to swelling and inflammation, to scarring (fibrosis) and eventually may result in cirrhosis or hardening of the liver, liver cancer, and death.

Obesity and diabetes are both risk factors, meaning the disease is more common in people who are overweight, obese, or diabetic. Some people without any of these risk factors get non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but such cases are less common.

While the incidence of fatty liver disease has increased dramatically since the early 1980s — along with the rise in obesity and diabetes — the exact correlation between its risk factors and what causes the disease are not fully understood.

 

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