Cirrhosis progression may accelerate with obesity, independent of portal pressure and liver function. Obesity continues to be a growing problem worldwide, with 1.5 billion adults over the age of 20 being overweight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO estimates that over 200 million of those men and 300 million of those women are obese.
Researcher Dr. Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao said, “Given the prior evidence of the detrimental effects of obesity on chronic liver disease, we hypothesized that increased BMI may increase the risk of transition from compensated to decompensated cirrhosis.” The study recruited 161 patients with compensated cirrhosis who were followed until clinical decompensation occurred (which means, the patient developed ascites, variceal hemorrhage, or hepatic encephalopathy).
Body mass index overview showed that 29 percent of the participants had normal weight, 40 percent were overweight, and 30 percent were obese. Clinical decompensation occurred in 30 percent of the patients, mostly overweight or obese.
Dr. Garcia-Tsao concluded, “Patients who are overweight or obese are at greater risk of accelerating the progression of cirrhosis. Weight reduction may improve patient outcomes in this high-risk population and studies addressing this specific issue are warranted.”
Treatment options to manage progression of cirrhosis
If caught early, cirrhosis is treatable. Typically, in order to treat cirrhosis, the cause of the disease must be addressed – for example, treating hepatitis, quitting alcohol or drug use, or treating a parasite.
Complications linked with cirrhosis also need to be treated. This can involve releasing excess fluid from the body, managing blood pressure, treating cirrhosis-related infections, and taking medications to reduce toxins in the body.
If cirrhosis is severe, a liver transplant is required. Cirrhosis is not inevitable, and you can start taking steps to protect your liver and prevent cirrhosis.
Limit or cut out alcohol: Alcohol isn’t just linked with cirrhosis, it can also play a role in poor liver function.
Choose a healthy diet to promote liver function: Steer clear of fatty, fried foods and stick with fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. Note that red meat takes longer to break down in the liver.
Maintain a healthy weight: Some forms of liver disease, including cirrhosis, are linked to fat accumulation.
Reduce your risk of developing hepatitis: Do not share needles, ensure you are vaccinated, and be aware of the risk of hepatitis when traveling to foreign countries.
Avoid infections: Cirrhosis makes it difficult to fight off infections. Avoid people who are sick and wash your hands frequently.
Eat a low-sodium diet: High sodium can cause your body to retain fluids, worsening swelling in your abdomen and legs. Use herbs for seasoning your food, rather than salt. Choose prepared foods that are low in sodium.