You may not have heard of fatty liver disease. Experts say you need to know – CBC

The disease rarely has symptoms and can cause extensive liver damage if left untreated

Apr 22, 2023

It’s a disease many have never heard of — yet it affects about 25 per cent of Canadians.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease happens when fat builds up in the liver. Experts say it’s hard to say what exactly causes it, but it’s associated with poor diet and not enough exercise.

Most people experience no symptoms of fatty liver disease — so you may not know you have it.

If left untreated, it can lead to more serious liver disease, such as cancer, and land you on a liver transplant wait-list.

“Your liver has tremendous reserve. Until you’re down to about less than 20 per cent, you don’t feel anything,” said Dr. Eric Yoshida, a professor of medicine at UBC and a hepatologist, a doctor who specializes in the liver.

Dr. Alnoor Ramji, a hepatologist and clinical associate professor at UBC, said some patients will complain of a vague sense of discomfort or bloating in the area of the liver, which is just under the right breast.

“It’s not going to be a sharp pain. It doesn’t keep them from doing things or activities in any way whatsoever,” said Ramji.

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