Beware of liver fat, it’s the real villain in cardio-diseases

December 5th, 2008 - 2:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 5 (IANS) Apple or pear shape don’t cause problematic heart, but liver fat, identified as the real villain, actually does. The new findings from nutrition researchers at Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM), St. Louis suggested body-shape comparisons don’t completely explain risk.

In two studies, they identified excess liver fat appears as the real key to insulin resistance, cholesterol abnormalities and other problems that contribute to diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Having too much fat stored in the liver is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

“Since obesity is so much more common now, both in adults and in children, we are seeing a corresponding increase in the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” said senior investigator Samuel Klein, professor of medicine and nutritional science.

“That can lead to serious liver disorders such as cirrhosis in extreme cases, but more often it tends to have metabolic consequences.”

Klein studied two groups of obese adolescents, namely obese with excessive liver fat and those with no evidence of fatty liver disease. The groups were matched by age, sex, body mass index, body fat percentage and degree of obesity, said a WUSM release written by Jim Dryden.

The researchers determined that children with fatty liver disease also had abnormalities in glucose and fat metabolism, including lower levels of HDL cholesterol, the so-called good cholesterol.

“Abdominal fat is not the best marker for risk,” says Klein, who also directs the Nutrition Support Service at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. “It appears liver fat is the real marker.”

“Fatty liver disease is completely reversible,” he said. “If you lose weight, you quickly eliminate fat in your liver. As little as two days of calorie restriction can improve the situation dramatically, and as fat in the liver is reduced, insulin sensitivity and metabolic problems improve.”

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