Diabetes And The Liver: The American Diabetes Association (ADA) indicates the greatest incidence of liver disease is found among those who also have diabetes. More than 12% of those who have diabetes will die from complications involving their liver, yet it is rare to hear the issue raised in mainstream discussions. This article will seek to explore the relationship between diabetes and liver health.
ADA reports indicate the following as a primary list of liver issues common among diabetics.
- Abnormal liver enzymes
- Cirrhosis in diabetes
- Hepatocellular carcinoma in diabetes
- Acute liver failure
- Hepatitis C in diabetes
Let’s take a look at each of these individually.
Abnormal Liver Enzymes – This is a sign physicians often review when diagnosing liver disease among those who abuse alcohol, but increasingly it is also a sign of potential liver damage due to onset diabetes. This condition can also be accelerated when using cholesterol-reducing medications or various NSAID based medications.
NAFLD – This abbreviation stands for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The treatment for this disease is often the exact same treatment as properly maintained blood glucose in Type 2 diabetics. One of the most radical forms of this disease is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This condition is usually discovered when a doctor is working to treat or diagnose a separate condition. Confirmation of this disorder can take several months and will only be properly diagnosed once a liver biopsy is conducted.
Cirrhosis In Diabetes – It is increasingly common for liver issues to be evident in diabetic patients. Interestingly a diagnosis of cirrhosis may be a precursor to a diagnosis of diabetes. The combination of the two medical issues is increasingly discovered in tandem.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma In Diabetes – This form of liver cancer seems to indicate that the presence of diabetes can contribute a 2-3-fold increase in the potential of development. Reports indicate that diabetes is a risk factor apart from any other existing medical history.
Acute Liver Failure – This diagnosis indicates a rapid deterioration of the functionality of the liver. It can be common in diabetics to also see an accompanying renal (kidney) failure.
Hepatitis C In Diabetes – When Hep C is diagnosed it is not uncommon to discover diabetes is close behind. It isn’t crystal clear whether Hepatitis C contributes to onset diabetes or if the diabetes worked to create and environment for Hepatitis C. Science Daily reports, “Patients who have chronic hepatitis C with advanced fibrosis have twice the risk of developing liver cancer if they also have diabetes.”
The truth is there is debate over the proverbial topic of which came first, the chicken or the egg. In this case it’s a question of whether liver issues precede diabetes or if diabetes works to create an environment conducive to the development of liver disorders.
What is known is that many of these disorders can be held in check. When it comes to prevention of liver disease in diabetics the Mayo Clinic offers the following steps.
- Tight control of blood sugar levels
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Reducing high cholesterol
- Avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol
A recent government finding concluded that Type 2 diabetic patients had 80% more liver fat than non-diabetic counterparts in their same age groups. This finding is significant in demonstrating the link between diabetes and chronic liver ailments. Obesity may contribute to onset diabetes, but its continued existence can lead to additional and very serious liver complications.