June 23, 2016
1 min read

Obesity, type 2 diabetes may increase cirrhosis burden in UK more than alcohol

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Researchers identified obesity and type 2 diabetes as risk factors for chronic liver disease — more so than excessive alcohol use — among a population of adults in the United Kingdom, according to data presented at the British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting.

“In the primary care population that was screened for major risk factors of chronic liver disease, a raised BMI and type 2 diabetes accounted for over 80% of those with clinically significant chronic liver disease,” Rebecca Harris, clinical research fellow in hepatology, National Institute for Health Research, Nottingham Digestive Diseases Biomedical Research Unit, U.K., and colleagues wrote.

Rebecca Harris

Rebecca Harris

Excessive alcohol consumption has been a predominant risk factor for rising mortality rates from liver disease in the UK for decades. However, since the rate of diabetes and obesity is increasing, the prevalence of chronic liver disease in adults in a primary care population and its risk factors may change, according to the researchers.

The researchers screened 1,320 asymptomatic adult patients from within the inner city of Leicester for type 2 diabetes, increased BMI of 27.3 kg/m2 and hazardous alcohol use. If a patient presented with one or more of these risk factors, they were invited to undergo a liver stiffness measurement using transient elastography (TE; n = 705).

Of the 705 adults, 82 presented with increased liver stiffness measurement. Liver stiffness measurement was 3.5 (95% CI, 0.73-9.8) in patients with hazardous alcohol use as the only risk factor compared with adults with type 2 diabetes (7.9; 95% CI, 2.9-16.4) or increased BMI (8.6; 95% CI, 6-11.9).

In all patients with increased liver stiffness, 19.5% of patients had hazardous alcohol use — with or without type 2 diabetes and a raised BMI — as a risk factor for CLD, compared with 80.5% who had type 2 diabetes and/or a raised BMI without hazardous alcohol use.

The researchers concluded: “Population-based interventions are urgently required to address obesity and type 2 diabetes, which are likely to contribute to the burden of cirrhosis in the next decade.” – by Melinda Stevens


Harris R, et al. Abstract #OC-032. Presented at: British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting; June 20-23, 2016; Liverpool, U.K.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.