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Reuters Health Information (2005-01-28): Hispanics at increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease


Hispanics at increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Last Updated: 2005-01-28 15:15:18 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Among the various racial groups in the US, Hispanics appear to be at increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), new research suggests.

"Our findings highlight the need for increased awareness of NAFLD within minority racial-ethnic groups, the need for culturally sensitive educational programs aimed at the early recognition and prevention of NAFLD, as well as the need for ensuring adequate representation of different racial-ethnic groups in future clinical studies," senior author Dr. Norah A. Terrault, from the University of California at San Francisco, and colleagues note.

The findings, which appear in the February issue of Hepatology, are based on a study of 742 patients with newly diagnosed chronic liver disease that were drawn from a racially diverse representative US population.

Overall, 21.4% of subjects had definite or probable NAFLD, the investigators note. Of the nonwhite patients, 28% were Hispanic, 18% were Asian, 3% were African American, and 6% were in other racial or ethnic groups.

African American patients with NAFLD were significantly older than patients of other racial groups. The authors also found that among Asians, males were 3.5-times more likely to have NAFLD than females.

In all of the groups, obesity, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes were associated with NAFLD. However, Asians with NAFLD had lower BMIs than patients of other racial groups.

As noted, Hispanics constituted 28% of NALFD patients, yet in the base population, this group only made up 10% of subjects. Conversely, although whites made up 45% of NAFLD patients, the base population was 59% white.

"These racial and gender variations may reflect differences in genetic susceptibility to visceral adiposity, including hepatic involvement, and may have implications for the evaluation of persons with the metabolic syndrome," the investigators state.

Hepatology 2005;41:372-379.

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