Non-alcoholic fatty liver is now a silent threat to life in Bangladesh.
Fatty liver has severe consequences like liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, but lifestyle could help people easily avoid the problem by taking healthy diet and exercise.
A recent study by hepatology doctors in Bangladesh shows that about 4.5 crore people in the country, or one third of the population developed non-alcoholic fatty liver, a prime cause of liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, having little or no treatment.
In fatty liver, or hepatic steatosis, there is buildup of fat in the liver.
It’s normal to have some fat in the liver, but too much of it can create a health problem.
The liver, being the second largest organ in human body, has the function to process everything one eats or drinks and filter harmful substances from the blood.
This process is interrupted when there is too much fat is one’s liver.
In fatty liver, fat accounts for more than five to 10 per cent weight of the liver, and the abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver in some individuals can progress to liver cell injury like hepatocellular ballooning and inflammation.
The disease turns into non-alcoholic steato hepatitis over time and it has no treatment in Bangladesh and ultimate end is liver cirrhosis or liver cancer, said doctors.
They said that fatty liver occurs as a result of unhealthy diets and lack of physical activity. Diabetic patients and obese people are in greater risks of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver, they said.
A matter of serious concern is that fatty liver can remain dormant giving no scope to patients feel the problem for long.
No diagnosis of fatty liver is possible until fat covers 30 per cent of the liver, though fatty liver occurred when affected individuals had accumulated 10 per cent fat in their livers.
Releasing the study findings at a seminar on Thursday, health experts expressed concern about the new issue facing this nation.
They said that 33.86 per cent non-alcoholic fatty liver prevalence in Bangladesh was much higher than the global average prevalence of 25 per cent.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver has become a silent threat to life in Bangladeshis, said lead researcher and associate professor of hepatology at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University Shahinul Alam.
The study covered 2,782 urban and rural people.
The urban areas included the capital, Feni, Mymensingh, Bogra and Patuakhali
and rural areas of Pabna, Chatkhil, Bheramara and Keraniganj.
The study was done from December 2015 to January 2017 and the findings were recently published in the Australian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Foundation and John Wiley and Sons.
According to the findings of the study individuals with higher body-mass index, over- weight, obesity, diabetes, midlife adults, married and rural women are the major groups of people who are suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
The study reveals that the prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is higher in high income group (50 per cent), 33 per cent among urban people and 36.59 per cent among the rural people.
The prevalence among the females is 33.91 per cent and 33.82 per cent among the males.
Diabetic patients have 71.18 per cent prevalence, hypertension patients--62.8 per cent, obese people--63.55 per cent and overweight people --44.05 per cent, reveals the study.
BSMMU liver department chairman professor Nooruddin Ahmad said that earlier the people of Bangladesh were worried over hepatitis B and C and now fatty liver became a new threat to life.
‘And the only option available to us is prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, as we have no treatment of it,’ he said.
Nooruddin said that only healthy diet and exercise could stop non-alcoholic fatty liver from turning into non-alcoholic steato hepatitis.
Bangladesh Hepatology Society president Mobin Khan said that Bangladesh could not as yet adopt a national policy for the prevention of fatty liver.
‘We have to incorporate the issue in our national health agenda and launch mass campaign to raise people’s awareness about the disease,’ he said.