liver disease

People with type 2 diabetes are five times more likely than the general population to develop a serious condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Developing NAFLD can impair the liver from performing effectively and this can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, weight loss and pain on the lower right side of the ribs. NAFLD can be addressed by adopting a healthy lifestyle.

If NAFLD is allowed to develop it can result in cirrhosis, severe damage to the liver, that can cause jaundice and may require liver transplantation.

A research team, led by researchers from the University Edinburgh and University Southampton, UK, analysed hospital and death records, spanning a 10-year period, of people aged people of 40–89 years old in Scotland. The team picked out all records showing presence of chronic liver disease (CLD).

Within the general population, alcoholic liver disease (ALD) was the most common form of chronic liver disease. However, within people with type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was the most common type.

Moreover, people with type 2 diabetes had more than 5 times the risk of NAFLD disease as people without type 2 diabetes.

Prof. Sarah Wild, of the University of Edinburgh stated: “Preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by avoiding unhealthy lifestyles in both people with and without diabetes is important because it is difficult to treat the complications of this condition.”

Prof. Chris Byrne of the University of Southampton added: “Further research is now needed to determine whether all patients with type 2 diabetes should be screened for common chronic liver diseases.”

The study is published in the Journal of Hepatology.