GP urges awareness of liver failure risks

Date published: 18 April 2018

A n Oldham GP and national health campaigner has warned that one in eight people could be at risk of liver failure and even death, if they don’t do something about their diet.

Research released last week by Biobank showed that 12% of people they tested nationally had inflamed, fatty livers, largely caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise.

And Dr Zahid Chauhan believes these alarming stats should serve as a major wake-up call for overweight and obese people in Oldham – particularly as fatty liver disease is difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat.

“It is no exaggeration to say that fatty liver is a silent killer that is hard to discover even with ultra-sound” said Dr Chauhan.

“The only way to halt its malignant progress is by leading a healthier lifestyle. Patients in fairly dire straits have even reversed liver damage with better eating and exercise habits.”

The liver is responsible for detoxifying and helping to ensure we digest food and gain the nutrients we need.

Alcohol has long been known to cause liver damage but high deposits of fat in the organ can also be calamitous and are associated with diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

“Inflammation of the liver over a number of years can lead to problems such as fibrosis and cirrhosis, which results in a lumpy and scarred liver” continued Dr Chauhan.

"This, in turn, can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.”

Aside from a few symptoms such as fatigue, so called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NFLD) can be disturbingly difficult for doctors to spot. Even blood tests sometimes don’t pick it up.

Expert evidence does however show that losing more than 10% of your excess weight can remove some fat from the liver.

Added Dr Chauhan: “We should all be trying to live healthier lifestyles as a matter of course, but the threat of fatty liver disease ought to prompt us to redouble our efforts to eat a better balanced diet, exercise more (even if this is non-taxing activity, like a brisk walk), quit smoking and ensure we take the free NHS health checks on offer.

Like our hearts and other vital organs, our livers need a little love and protection.”