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What Do Hepatitis C & Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Have in Common?

Hepatitis C and NAFLD (nonalcoholic fatty liver disease) are the most common causes of chronic liver disease in the United States. In the US, between 80 to 100 million people are affected by fatty liver disease.1

What is NAFLD?

The Mayo Clinic states, “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an umbrella term for a range of liver conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristic of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells”.1

The following factors can increase the risk of liver disease:1

  • High cholesterol
  • High triglycerides
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Diabetes
  • Hypothroidism
  • Hypopituitarism
  • Being older
  • Having a high concentration of body fat in the abdomen

NAFLD and hepatitis C

Hepatitis C and NAFLD can both lead to liver damage, which can then cause fibrosis or cirrhosis (severe scarring of the liver). Physicians are seeing an increase of hep C patients who also have fatty liver, which can lead to NAFLD and NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which is a more serious form of fatty liver disease). NAFLD is the 3rd most common risk factor for liver cancer.

For hepatitis C patients who have NAFLD, curing and fighting hepatitis C can be even harder. Having both hepatitis C and NAFLD can reduce the efficacy of hep C treatments. Also, not only does the hepatitis C virus need to be eliminated in order to prevent further damage, but the increase fat build-up in the liver interferes with liver’s ability to remove toxins from the blood. Reducing these fat deposits is critical to preventing damage and helping the liver tissue to regenerate.

Treating NAFLD

Typically, NAFLD can be greatly improved by diet and exercise, which reduce the amount of fat in the liver. As recommended by their doctor, hepatitis C patients who have NAFLD can reduce their risk of liver damage by losing weight and exercise, which may also increase the efficacy of hepatitis C treatment.

Talk to your physician about your risk factors with fatty liver disease. Put a plan in motion to reduce fatty liver and help your liver fight hepatitis C.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Mayo Clinic Staff. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Mayo Clinic. Published August 22, 2019.