Its main function is to remove toxins and process food nutrients.
What is fatty liver disease?
Fatty liver disease is the build-up of excess fat in the liver cells, and is a common liver complaint, affecting about one in every 10 people. It is normal for the liver to contain some fat, but if fat accounts for more than 10 per cent of the liver’s weight, then you have fatty liver and you may develop more serious complications.
A fatty liver may lead to inflammation of the liver which can cause liver damage. Sometimes, inflammation from a fatty liver is linked to alcohol, this is known as alcoholic steatohepatitis. Otherwise, the condition is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH. An inflamed liver may become scarred and hardened over time. This condition, called cirrhosis, is serious and often leads to liver failure. NASH is one of the top three leading causes of cirrhosis.
A fatty liver produces no symptoms on its own, so people often learn about their fatty liver when they have medical tests for other reasons. NASH can damage your liver for years or even decades without causing any symptoms.
New research findings
Scientists at Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore have found that elevated blood levels of an amino acid called homocysteine correlate strongly with the severity of an advanced form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. They also found vitamin B12 and folic acid could be used to prevent and/or delay disease progression.
“While fat deposition in the liver is reversible in its early stages, its progression to NASH causes liver dysfunction, cirrhosis and increases the risk for liver cancer,” said Dr Madhulika Tripathi, author of the study. “Our findings are both exciting and important because they suggest that a relatively inexpensive therapy, vitamin B12 and folic acid, could be used to prevent and/or delay the progression of NASH,” said Dr Singh.