A new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy has established a link between obesity and a greatly increased risk of cirrhosis of the liver in middle-aged men.
"Given the increasing problem of overweight in Sweden, there is reason to fear that more people will develop cirrhosis of the liver," said Jerzy Kaczynski, docent at the Sahlgrenska Academy and doctor at Sahlgrenska University Hospital.
A group of researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy studied 855 men aged 50 and followed them for up to 40 years.
None of the men had liver problems at the beginning of the study but during the long follow-up period almost 2 percent were diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver. All of the men with this diagnosis were overweight at the beginning of the study, with an average BMI of 28 (a BMI of above 25 is classified as overweight).
The results of the study show that both overweight and raised levels of blood fats, which are common in overweight people, significantly increase the risk of men developing cirrhosis of the liver. Given the increasingly discussed and growing problem of overweight in Sweden, there are good grounds for concern that more people will be diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver.
"A liver that has been ill and weakened as a result of overweight can take less of a load," said Kaczynski, adding, "We can therefore speculate that cirrhosis of the liver will develop more quickly in people who drink too much alcohol if they are overweight.
The study has been published in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.