Fatty liver disease: People with irregular periods ‘may be at risk’ – symptoms
Liver Disease: Expert discusses risks and symptoms
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A new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that people with long or irregular periods might be at risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Here are the warning signs to spot.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) details a range of conditions that have one thing in common – the build-up of fat in your liver.
Health portal Patient shares that this condition targets around one in five adults in the UK and up to four in five adults who are obese.
As the name suggests, NAFLD isn’t linked to heavy alcohol use. However, it’s been now associated with a long and irregular menstrual cycle.
Seungho Ryu – of the Center for Cohort Studies Total Healthcare Center, Kangbuk Samsung Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea – said: “Our study results show that long or irregular menstrual cycles may be associated with an increased risk of developing NAFLD.
“And this link was not explained by obesity.
“Previous studies have shown that long or irregular menstrual cycles are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
“But our study is the first to find a link between long or irregular menstrual cycles and NAFLD.”
The research looked at 72,092 women under the age of 40 in total.
Around 28 percent of these participants had long or irregular period and seven percent had NAFLD.
Doing a follow-up four years later, the researchers found new cases of fatty liver disease in almost nine percent of the subjects.
They concluded that there was a link between long or irregular cycles in young, premenopausal women and a higher risk of the condition.
Ryu added: “Young women with long or irregular menstrual cycles may benefit from lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of NAFLD as well as other cardiometabolic diseases.”
What are the symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease?
The NHS explains that the condition can be tricky to spot as the early stages of NAFLD don’t usually present any symptoms.
“You probably will not know you have it unless it’s diagnosed during tests carried out for another reason,” the health service states.
However, sometimes people in the later stages can develop:
- Dull or aching pain in the top right of the tummy (over the lower right side of the ribs)
- Extreme tiredness
- Unexplained weight loss
These symptoms are associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or fibrosis, which are the more advanced stages of NAFLD.
The most advanced stage is called cirrhosis. This presents with “more severe” symptoms, such as:
- Yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes (jaundice)
- Itchy skin
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, feet or tummy (oedema).
The NHS recommends seeing a GP “urgently” or calling 111 if you experience any of these signs or have a liver condition.
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