Editorials

Body fat and increased risk of cirrhosis

BMJ 2010; 340 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c774 (Published 12 March 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;340:c774
  1. Christopher D Byrne, professor of endocrinology and metabolism1,
  2. S H Wild, reader in epidemiology and public health 2
  1. 1Institute of Developmental Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
  2. 2Centre for Population Health Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AG
  1. cdtb{at}soton.ac.uk

    Better diagnosis and treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are needed

    Overweight (defined for European populations as a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and <30) and obesity (defined as BMI ≥30) have become a considerable threat to public health worldwide.1 2 3 The prevalence of overweight and obesity continues to rise in most countries—for example, the proportion of over 16 year olds classified as obese in England rose from 15% in 1991 to 24% in 2007, and this has resulted in increased use of healthcare resources to treat the consequences of obesity.4 Established consequences of obesity include cardiovascular disease, diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, gallstones, and various cancers. In the linked studies, Liu and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.c912)5 and Hart and colleagues (doi:10.1136/bmj.c1240)6 assess the link between BMI, alcohol intake, and liver disease.

    Using data from a cohort of 1.2 million women within the Million Women Study, who had no liver disease or cancer at baseline, Liu and colleagues found that the relative risk of liver cirrhosis increased by 28% for every 5 unit increase in BMI above 22.5 in each stratum of alcohol consumption.5 Women were recruited between 1996 and 2001 at a mean age of 56 years from NHS breast screening centres in the United Kingdom, and they self reported height and weight (with measured data available for a subgroup). Data on hospital admissions and deaths were collected from record linkage after a mean of 6.2 years. Over this period, 1811 women had a first hospital admission or died from cirrhosis and the absolute risk of …

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