Alcohol is no more the only cause of end-stage liver disease in the city. Doctors say sedentary lifestyle has led to an increasing numbers of Mumbaikars getting the fatty liver problem leading to liver cirrohosis (advance liver disease).
For a long time, excessive consumption of alcohol was considered as the root cause of a damaged liver. But even teetotallers who are overweight, with high abdominal obesity or waist circumference, can suffer from liver disease, say gastroenterologists and liver surgeons.
"The kind of lifestyle people have these days has by and large led to fatty liver disease becoming common among people, and the number is going to increase even further," said Dr SK Mathur, liver transplant expert at Fortis hospital. Fatty liver affects up to 10% of the urban population.
According to health experts, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) can reach epidemic proportions in the years to come, considering the improper lifestyles our youth are tempted to adopt today. Doctors say that in the last few years, there has been a rapid increase in the number of liver cancer patients in India, especially in urban cities, because of unhealthy lifestyles.
NAFLD may cause the liver to swell (steatohepatitis). A swollen liver may cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time and may even lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
Dr Pravin Rathi, head of gastroenterology, BYL Nair Hospital and Bombay Hospital, said, "Obesity is more dangerous than alcohol. Globalisation and westernisation has led to many people getting NAFLD. As obesity and diabetes are correlated with fatty liver, there is an upward trend to the latter. NAFLD is increasing mainly due to wrong dietary habits and high intake of fats and carbohydrates and less of proteins."
While obesity is a cause for concern amongst the youth of India, doctors warn against rapid weight loss regimes. "Rapid weight loss regimes can lead to severe damage to liver. Therefore, people trying to lose weight should go for a gradual loss programme and adopt a healthy lifestyle," added Rathi.