Is losing weight on the top of your list this year? In many cases, it’s difficult to maintain the same level of enthusiasm in February and March as it is in January. But we’re going to challenge you to reconsider why you want to lose weight. The motivation behind your health goal will impact how dedicated you remain to the goal. If you consider the implications to your health and view weight loss as a way to reduce your risk for various diseases and cancers, would you have more resolve? 

A new study reveals that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) significantly increases the chance for cancer. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is most commonly associated with people who are overweight or obese. Losing weight may protect you from NAFLD which in turn protects you from a high risk of many GI cancers.

What is NAFLD?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the buildup of excess fat cells in the liver as the result of obesity, high cholesterol, or diabetes. A fatty liver is diagnosed when 5-10% of the liver is made up of fat. This is called steatosis. In the United States, 25% of the population has NAFLD. At first, there are no symptoms, but over time you may notice fatigue, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, and abdominal pain. Jaundice (yellowing skin), fluid build-up and swelling in the legs or abdomen, the presence of spider-like veins, itching, and mental confusion are also symptoms of NAFLD. There is no cure for NAFLD, but you can take steps to stop liver damage by eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, losing weight if you are obese or overweight, controlling your diabetes, and lowering your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

NAFLD and Cancer

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease that is not managed increases your cancer risk by 91%. A recent  study found that overweight men and women with NAFLD were more likely to receive a cancer diagnosis than those without. This study conducted by the Mayo Clinic looked at 19,223 subjects between 1997 and 2017. Of those subjects 4,791 had NAFLD. Their aim was to determine the prevalence of cancer after a NAFLD diagnosis. Results proved that the increased risk was highest in GI cancers such as colon, liver, stomach, and pancreas. 

Overweight or obese men with NAFLD were more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer than women. Both men and women who were diagnosed with NAFLD at a younger age were more likely to develop cancer, particularly colon and pancreatic cancer. This study showed that obesity has a direct correlation in cancer diagnosis as a result of NAFLD.

Can You Prevent NAFLD?

In order to protect your body from NAFLD, and a future cancer diagnosis, talk to your doctor about taking the following steps today. Maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, limit alcohol consumption, take medication only when necessary and ensure you are taking the correct dose. Your diet should largely be plant-based and consist of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats. Maintaining a healthy weight includes eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. But if you are overweight or obese, it is crucial for you to lose weight in an appropriate way. Reduce the number of calories you consume each day and talk to your doctor about different forms of healthy exercise. 

GI Associates offers Ideal Protein, a medically developed weight loss plan for you to safely lose the weight necessary to be the healthiest you! If you are overweight or obese and believe you are at risk for NAFLD, make an appointment at GI Associates & Endoscopy today. Let your motivation to live a long, healthy life help you reach your weight loss goals this year.

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