The Dangers of Being Overweight for Your Liver
This is part of our “In Medical News” series where Dr. Sara Laudani shares a study or article in recent news and offers some analysis and tips about the news, to help patients stay informed.
A recent article in Medscape discussed findings that show being overweight or obese significantly increases the risk for liver disease and the likelihood of dying from it compared with being of normal weight, regardless of level of alcohol consumption. This study revealed obesity as an independent risk factor that may increase the risk of death for patients with ALD (alcoholic liver disease).
"Even for people who drank within alcohol guidelines, participants classified as obese were at over 50% greater risk of liver disease," senior author Emmanuel Stamatakis, PhD, of the Charles Perkins Centre and the Faculty of Medicine and Health, Sydney, Australia, said.
Obesity is well known as a risk factor for NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). This study is said to be the first and largest of its kind, investigating the roles of different factors in incidence and mortality in both ALD and NAFLD.
Evaluating data from over 400,000 participants, "we found evidence that being overweight/obese amplified the harmful effect of alcohol on the liver disease incidence and mortality," the authors conclude.
An important message from the study is that "clinicians should consider the presence of overweight and obesity when they discuss defining safe alcohol levels for their patients, keeping in mind that there is no 'safe' level of alcohol," Inan-Eroglu said.
Current alcohol drinking guidelines may not be sufficient when considering that two-thirds of the adult population are overweight or obese. Guidelines may need to change to tailor recommendations to this significant population.
Further studies are needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms behind the association.
Take-Aways for You
- Alcohol is not water! It has risks at any level. Particularly for those who have other health conditions or lifestyle risks such as obesity, any drinking poses a risk. Talk to your doctor about your individual situation.
- Be aware of alcohol-related risks to make mindful choices about consumption.
- Be honest with your health practitioners about your lifestyle. Doctors need to understand your level of alcohol consumption and other habits to be able to properly advise you.
- Especially for young people and teenagers, early exposure to alcohol consumption will impact future health outcomes. Be a role model and explain to them the risks related to alcohol.
- Alcohol consumption is biochemically “pricy”: it not only increases risks of several diseases, but it also requires the consumption of micronutrients and antioxidants to be metabolised.
- Losing weight can help your health in many ways. Discuss your concerns with your doctor and get advice on a healthy weight loss plan.
Dr. Sara Laudani offers consultations in internal medicine and functional and nutritional medicine in our Hongmei Road Clinic – Hongqiao. Click here to schedule an appointment with her and find out how her holistic approach and protocols can help you resolve your health issues.