Hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver which can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis or cancer.
Although originally the WHO’s campaign was focused on viral hepatitis and then alcoholic hepatitis, today the main cause of hepatitis comes from a different source.
NAFLD, NASH or “fatty liver disease”
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD – illustration 2) is a condition in which there is excess fat in the liver. This is not the result of excessive alcohol consumption, but instead occurs when the liver is overloaded with fats (mainly through the excessive consumption of sugary drinks, fats and sugars) and as the result of insufficient exercise.
NAFLD can develop into a more serious and advanced form of fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH – illustration 3). This is characterized by inflammation and fibrosis which has the potential to progress to cirrhosis (illustration 4).1
“The next world epidemic”2
Currently, on a worldwide scale, this condition is spreading relentlessly: people eat more and more fat and sugar and have increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
NAFLD and NASH are now the leading causes for liver transplants (before hepatitis C) and above all are the leading causes of liver disease in western countries; this affects more than a third of the world’s population.
Researchers believe that fatty liver disease is slowly going to become the main cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (the most common kind of liver cancer). The most serious effects of the condition include jaundice, liver failure, gastrointestinal haemorrhage, cardiovascular diseases and cirrhosis.
Symptoms, screening and treatment
People with NAFLD or NASH do not generally have any specific symptoms.
The risk factors can only be identified after an appropriate medical check-up has been carried out.
To date, there is no treatment proven to be effective for NAFLD or NASH. Diet and lifestyle changes are the only effective available treatments: losing weight, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, making dietary changes and doing regular physical exercise.
It is essential to make these lifestyle changes in order to:
- alleviate NAFLD
- slow down the progression of NASH, to prevent cirrhosis
Nescens Clinique de Genolier is an establishment specialising in preventive health, the management of lifestyle-related diseases and better ageing. The doctors at its Preventive Medicine Centre offer a variety of check-ups and specialised health assessments, one of which is specifically aimed at people with complications typically associated with being overweight: La Cure Nescens.