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Alcohol Behind the Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease ‘Epidemic’ in India

rates have tripled since the 1980s, with a projected 1.1 million deaths from liver cancer by 2030. Around 30%-40% of my outpatient department’s patients have liver issues. I attend to approximately 30-35 individuals with liver ailments each month, falling between 30-60 years.

Liver diseases are broadly caused by hepatitis viruses (A to E), alcohol, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), drugs, autoimmune and genetic disorders, and benign and malignant liver tumors. The leading causes of these illnesses stem from consuming high amounts of junk food, high-fat diets, and sugary drinks.


The incidence of alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFLD) is also growing in India due to steadily rising alcohol consumption. AFLD develops when excess fat accumulates in the liver, leading to liver inflammation, scarring, and even liver failure.

Some people are more vulnerable to AFLD because of metabolic and genetic factors. Heavy drinkers are at the highest risk, while obese people or those with a high body mass index (BMI) are also susceptible. Those with diabetes face a higher risk of AFLD and, conversely, people with AFLD have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

The risk also rises as one becomes older. Poorly nourished people are more vulnerable to liver damage. Moreover, women are at an increased risk of developing AFLD, as their bodies metabolize alcohol differently than men.

How to Prevent Alcoholic Liver Disease?

However, all these are preventable and manageable with lifestyle modifications, vaccination against hepatitis B, and early detection and treatment of hepatitis C. Liver transplantation also offers hope for those with end-stage liver disease.

Therefore, doctors suggest avoiding binge drinking, limiting alcohol consumption, avoiding high-fat, sugary, and salty foods, and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. They also recommended regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and stress reduction.

One should take care of their liver by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, limiting their alcohol intake to no more than two standard drinks per day, and avoiding exposure to chemicals and pollutants that can damage your liver.

Regular exercise is also very important to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of developing other health problems that can contribute to AFLD. Stress can contribute to alcohol consumption, which can increase the risk of AFLD.

Managing stress through activities like yoga, meditation, or pranayama is helpful. Regular preventive health check-ups can help detect AFLD in its early stages. For patients with AFLD, medications may be prescribed to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of liver damage. In severe cases, a liver transplant may be necessary.

Source: Medindia

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