Fatty Liver: The Silent Killer

Health & FitnessCancer / Illness

  • Author Afiqah Zuhelmi
  • Published May 4, 2021
  • Word count 927

Fatty Liver: The Silent Killer

The top cause of death in Malaysia is due to heart disease. However, liver diseases seem to chase the number of death and has already reached the epidemic level in our country. As stated by Dr. Rosmawati in Code Blue Health Is Human Right, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is now the commonest liver cancer. Causes of death due to liver cancer in Malaysia have increased by 31.5% from 1990 to 2020. Most killer diseases in Malaysia such as ischemic heart and fatty liver diseases are both related to obesity. According to an interview by Daily Express with a hepatologist, Associate Prof Dr. Chan Wah Kheong said that there are more and more patients coming to the hospital with the common symptoms of liver disease. Therefore, we must anticipate ourselves from developing and having a fatty liver, the silent killer of Malaysians.

The liver is one of the vital organs for humans. The liver processes all the food that we eat into substances that can be used by our body. Fatty liver is more common in adults because children and teenagers are rapidly growing and live a more active lifestyle. Hence, their bodies maximally utilize the energy supplied by the foods they eat rather than turning them into fats, which is a form of body fuel storage. In comparison, the adults’ energy utilization is much lower and continues to diminish since their lifestyle gradually becomes more sedentary or less busy than in their early lives. Thus, an adult need to consume less food than other age groups, which is proportional to their energy usage, howbeit, most adults did not reduce their food intake and this leads to fat accumulation in the liver, hence forming a fatty liver.

There are many symptoms that may indicate fatty liver such as pain at the right upper quadrant, jaundice and fatigue. However, fatty liver is commonly asymptomatic in the early stage, and becomes symptomatic only when the liver has already reached a dire state. This is why most people did not realize the fact that they have a fatty liver and only seek help by the time it is already too late. Not to mention, a fatty liver does not only diminish its own function but it will also affect other important organs. For example, the diseased liver tends to distribute cholesterols to other cells via blood. Thus, if one with the said liver disease consumes excess cholesterol, he is at a higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, which is a condition where cholesterols build up in the arterial walls and it may then lead to ischemic heart disease. Hence, to obtain a healthy liver, we need to have a healthy and balanced diet, in addition to exercising regularly. This is because, a fatty liver can happen to just anyone but, it is proven that people with obesity have a much higher risk of having it. So, we need to have a normal body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage to lower our risk of getting a fatty liver.

Adversely, the Malaysians lifestyle are becoming more and more unhealthy by days. Indeed, Malaysian street foods are too tempting to resist, and this makes it very difficult for Malaysians to cut down their food intake. Not to mention, some people love to spend their weekend doing food hunting to satisfy their craving for viral foods. To make things worse, there are various types of unhealthy trending foods such as chocolate jars, ramen, and cheesy chips that are widely sold and easily accessible in the market. Furthermore, the number of shops selling sweet drinks and beverages are also springing up like mushrooms. These junk foods are indeed undeniably delicious and delectable as it is obvious how regularly they are being consumed. However, too much consumption of them will burden the liver as it is forced to work harder to process the foods. Hence, if one continues this bad habit, it will definitely affect his health in a negative way.

Besides our unhealthy lifestyle, the Covid-19 pandemic makes it worse. Due to the pandemic, our government had imposed a complete lockdown in the country to curb the virus from widely spreading. Recreational parks, shopping complexes, workplaces and even schools are forced to close to stop mass gathering. Hence, with nowhere to go, people are more likely to spend their time relaxing at home in addition to restricting and thus, reducing their daily movements and activities. To boot, having not much things to do, people tend to develop the boredom eating habit. If this condition carries on, the percentage of Malaysian citizens with obesity will get higher and this will increase the risk of them to get a fatty liver.

Regardless of anything, there should not be an excuse for us not to take care of our health. There are many ways for us to achieve and maintain our physical fitness from home. A simple example would be the fact that we can watch and follow the copious number of exercise videos uploaded on various YouTube channels. It is regrettable to see that most people know that being healthy is necessary yet very few are practicing a healthy lifestyle. Over and above, it is important for us to practice a healthy lifestyle and consuming a balanced diet to ensure our organs, especially the liver are in their best shape for them to play their roles and function best in our body. Lastly, good health is not something that can be bought by anyone, and it is undeniably the greatest blessing a human can have.

afiqahzuhelmi@gmail.com

Written by Afiqah Solehah Binti Zuhelmi, a second year student in Faculty of Medical and Health Science, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)

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