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Diabetes could be sign of liver disease

15th March 2011

Type 2 diabetes may be like the proverbial tip of an iceberg, according to a recent Canadian study.

diabetes1

The researchers found that type 2 diabetes can be a symptom of chronic liver disease and a warning sign for liver cirrhosis and liver failure later in life.

Liver cirrhosis can have many causes, including alcoholism and fatty liver disease.

A liver affected by cirrhosis tends to be full of fibrous tissue and scar tissue, which are generated during the liver's perpetual attempts to heal itself.

The researchers found that people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes tended to accumulate liver fat around the onset of diabetes.

Joel Ray, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, said that scientists had lately gained a better understanding of the nature of insulin resistance and fat metabolism.

Last month, researchers in the US found a positive statistical link between fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that the statistical link was the same regardless of the amount of fat people had in other areas of their bodies.

Sun Kim, a researcher at Stanford University in California said that while many doctors and patients did not see anything wrong with having fat in the liver, he and his research team believed that any excess liver fat should be viewed as a warning sign of type 2 diabetes.

He said that the danger of getting diabetes was the same regardless of people's insulin concentration.

While fatty liver is usually associated with alcoholism, people who do not drink alcohol at all may also accumulate liver fat.

Accumulating large amounts of liver fat in the absence of alcohol consumption is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Many studies have also shown that genes are a factor in the development of diabetes.

Last year, researchers pinpointed a gene called Hnf4a, believed to be important in the growth of the pancreas and insulin production.

Scientists also recently pinpointed 15 new genes thought to be responsible for primary biliary cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease.

Almost all of the genes pinpointed by the study had previously been associated with type 1 diabetes, indicating that the liver may play an important role in insulin production.

 

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