Reversing fatty liver disease can reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, researchers in Korea have revealed.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is linked with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. To assess whether this elevated risk remains when fatty liver resolves, Ki-Chul Sung, of Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, and colleagues conducted a retrospective study of 13,218 patients.
During a 5-year follow-up, 234 patients developed type 2 diabetes while, 1,640 patients developed NAFLD, 324 experienced progression from mild to moderate/severe NAFLD, and 828 resolved it. Of the latter, only 12 were diagnosed with diabetes .
After taking into account factors including age, sex, glucose and insulin levels, body mass index, and cholesterol, the researchers found that patients whose NAFLD went away over the 5 years were no longer at greater risk of type 2 diabetes. In fact, this group had a similar diabetes risk as those who didn’t have fatty liver, either at baseline or at follow-up.
By comparison, patients who developed new NAFLD over the 5-year study did have an elevated risk of becoming diabetic . However, this risk was significantly greater among those who had worsening NAFLD.
“These data strongly suggest that NAFLD severity is associated with a greater risk of diabetes, and attenuation of fatty liver status decreases risk of developing diabetes,” Sung and colleagues reported online in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism .

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