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More than 150 worldwide medical experts issued a manifesto to fight liver disease, called NASH (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), as part of the first-ever NASH Day on June 12, 2018.
But just what is NASH? Why is it so important to Latinos?
NASH and Our Diets
NASH is a liver disease that stems from high-sugar, high fat diets.
“To compensate, [our livers] start storing excess fat. If nothing changes, such as diet or exercise, our livers get inflamed — which is what we call hepatitis. Eventually, the disease progresses to nonalcoholic cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, the need for a liver transplant and even death,” according to a San Antonio Express-News report.
NASH is a rising public health threat for several reasons.
It could lead to needing a liver transplant, which costs about $800,000 in the United States and comes with associated complications.
It also is closely associated with non-hepatic disorders, such as cardiovascular events that are the leading cause of death in NASH patients.
A Silent Killer
About 30 million Americans (12%) likely have NASH.
The problem is, many don’t know they have NASH.
NASH is a asymptomatic “silent” disease. Most patients show no symptoms, and most people with NASH are not diagnosed.
NASH is also under-diagnosed because it is difficult to detect due to the lack of a simple, accurate, and cost-effective diagnostic solution.
NASH in Latinos
About 1 in 3 middle-aged Latinos in South Texas have NASH.
The prevalence of pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasing among Mexican-American Hispanic Children. 17% of U.S. children ages 2-19 are obese, and NASH prevalence has doubled among U.S. adolescents in the last three decades.
Modern lifestyles linked to pre-diabetes and increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes and obesity among Latinos are leading cause for the rise of NASH among Latinos.
NASH Day & Manifesto
The manifesto urges raising NASH awareness, sharing stories, and taking other actions.
“The purpose is to make sure NASH clearly appears on the radar of mainstream media, becomes a regular topic of discussion, and gets recognized by public health authorities as one of the major issues to be addressed in the next years and decades,” according to the manifesto. “We consider this as part of our social responsibility.”
Physicians in San Antonio offered free screenings on June 12.
“We invite everyone to raise their voices among their primary care providers, internists, family practitioners and hepatologists, as well as patients who are at risk of fatty liver disease,” wrote Dr. Stephen Harrison, a San Antonio gastroenterologist and hepatologist, and NASH patient Marcela Medina in the Express-News.
“Talk to your doctor, or your patient, and let’s make San Antonio’s livers healthier.”