July 20, 2016
1 min read

NAFLD most common cause of cirrhosis in multiethnic cohort

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According to recent findings published in Hepatology, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was the most common cause of cirrhosis in a cohort comprising whites, blacks, Latinos, Japanese Americans and Native Hawaiians.

“This is the first study of its kind to include Native Hawaiians and Japanese Americans,” Veronica Wendy Setiawan, PhD, in the department of preventive medicine at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, said in a press release. “It revealed the important discovery that NAFLD is the most common cause of [chronic liver disease (CLD)] and cirrhosis in Japanese Americans, Latinos, and Native Hawaiians and that NAFLD prevalence in Japanese [Americans] is higher than in Latinos and other ethnic groups.”

Veronica Wendy Setiawan, PhD

Veronica Wendy Setiawan

As part of the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC) study, Setiawan and colleagues examined CLD and cirrhosis prevalence by underlying etiology in whites, blacks, Latinos, Native Hawaiians and Japanese Americans. The cohort comprised 106,458 participants assessed between 1999 and 2012. To define underlying etiology, the researchers used BMI, history of diabetes, alcohol consumption and the International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision codes. Overall, 5,783 patients had CLD, 2,208 of whom also had cirrhosis.

CLD prevalence was 3.9% in blacks and Native Hawaiians, 4.1% in whites, 6.7% in Latinos and 6.9% in Japanese Americans. For all ethnic groups NAFLD was the most common cause of CLD (52%), followed by alcoholic liver disease (21%). In addition, NAFLD was the most common cause of cirrhosis in all cohorts. By ethnicity, it was the most common cause for Latinos, Japanese Americans and Native Hawaiians, which accounted for 32% of cases. For cirrhosis in whites, alcoholic liver disease was the most common cause (38.2%). For cirrhosis in blacks, it was hepatitis C (29.8%).

“This paper addresses the gap in knowledge for understudied populations with respect to CLD’s underlying etiology and underscores NAFLD as the most important cause of CLD,” Setiawan said. “It also highlights the need to implement improved screening, diagnostic, and management approaches to face this growing epidemic.” – by Will Offit

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.