Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common types of liver disease in both adults and adolescents, and is also one of the leading causes of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) (a form of primary liver cancer). NAFLD is a condition in which excess fat accumulates in the liver.
Causes of NAFLD
While a healthy liver contains a small amount of fat (up to 5%), a higher concentration can lead to complications, including liver inflammation, liver cell injury, and eventually the development of liver cirrhosis. Fatty liver disease also can be linked to other serious health concerns such as cardiovascular disease.
Risk Factors for NAFLD
Excess fat can build up in the liver if the body creates too much fat or cannot break it down quickly enough. The main risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidemia (excess fat in the blood). It can also be genetic, or inherited from a parent. When NAFLD is detected early, it is possible to significantly reduce the risk of long-term complications.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most severe form of NAFLD and occurs when the excess fat in the liver is accompanied by liver inflammation and scarring over time. In more severe cases this condition can lead to end stage liver disease or cancer.
While there is no therapy for this condition, there are many promising treatments being researched.