The first study to examine nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) among different ethnic and racial groups in the United States finds that Hispanics may be at a higher risk of developing the condition. The study is published in Hepatology, the official journal of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD). Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hepatology is available online via Wiley InterScience at http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/hepatology
NAFLD, the most common liver disease in the U.S., is a condition associated with obesity and Type II diabetes in which fat accumulates in the liver. Although it is benign, its more advanced form, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), can cause chronic liver disease, cirrhosis and cancer. In fact, one in every five cases of newly diagnosed chronic liver disease may be attributable to NAFLD. Previous studies of NAFLD have focused predominantly on Caucasians, while the current study focused on a variety of racial-ethnic groups.
This study, jointly conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco, the Division of Research at Kaiser Permanente, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, examined 742 newly diagnosed cases of chronic liver disease between December 1998 and December 2000. The patients were members of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program who participated in the Alameda County, CA Chronic Liver Disease Surveillance Study, one of three sites in the country performing surveillance of chronic liver disease. Participants were assigned a diagnosis of "definite" NAFLD if a liver biopsy confirmed the disease, and a diagnosis of "probable" if several other criteria were met, including elevation of liver enzymes, ultrasound or computerized tomography results consistent with fatty liver, type II diabetes, high cholesterol, and no significant alcohol use.
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