Type 2 diabetes can substantially increase the risk of serious liver disease, according to a new study that revealed that men with the metabolic disease were three times more likely to suffer non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh found that people with type 2 diabetes were significantly more likely than those without the metabolic condition to develop serious liver disease.
Researchers said the latest findings suggest that deaths related to liver disease will increase if the current trend in type 2 diabetes continues its current trajectory.
The latest study, which involved data from Scottish hospital records and death records over a 10-year period, revealed that most cases of liver diseases in people with type 2 diabetes are not related to alcohol. Instead, most cases of liver disease in diabetics were linked to the accumulation of fat within liver cells.
Previous studies linked non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to obesity, which can also increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. This condition is preventable and the risk can be lowered with healthy diet and regular exercise.
Study results revealed that men with type 2 diabetes were three times more likely to suffer non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and women with type 2 diabetes were five times more likely to suffer non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Researchers noted that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease raises the risk of fatal conditions like cirrhosis and liver cancer, and that people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease should abstain from alcohol to curb future complications.
"Preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by avoiding unhealthy lifestyles in both people with and without diabetes is important because it is difficult to treat the complications of this condition," said Sarah Wild, a professor at the University of Edinburgh's Usher Institute for Population Health Sciences, who co-led the study.
"We have shown for the first time that type 2 diabetes is an important novel risk factor that increases numbers of hospital admissions and deaths, in people with all common chronic liver diseases. Further research is now needed to determine whether all patients with type 2 diabetes should be screened for common chronic liver diseases," said Chris Byrne, professor of the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton's NIHR Biomedical Research Center, who co-authored the study.
The findings were published in the Journal of Hepatology.