Doctors and health experts have noted that fatty liver is at the core of most liver diseases including liver cancer in India, contributing to the total disease burden of the country. About 30 per cent of the population or 1 in 3 people in India are suffering from fatty liver – a condition which refers to extra fat in the liver. Gathered at India Liver Health Summit 2022: India’s Largest Awareness Mission to Help Your Liver Live Long! session organised by the leading health awareness institution Integrated Health & Wellbeing (IHW) Council, they emphasized on prevention of this emerging health issue and make efforts right from the grassroot level in the direction by creating more awareness on the disease.
Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Sr. Professor, Department of Hepatology and Vice Chancellor, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi said that there has been a growing incidence of fatty disease in the country which is a matter of serious health concern. “Liver cancer today is the fastest growing cancer in the world and by 2030, it will be the fastest growing cancer. In India, around one-third of the population or 30 per cent have fatty liver. This condition will continue to give rise to other serious health complications like diabetes and liver cancer. So, keep your liver free of fat as much as you can,” he said.
“Out of this one-third population, 80-90 per cent would be at greater risk. To verify this risk, there is simple SGPT blood test and ultrasound imaging. Generally, if SGPT range is over 40, then it means liver is injured. This condition can lead to dryness and liver fibrosis. In India, as estimated 1 in 4 people have high SGPT, that means 22-25 per cent of the population,” Dr Sarin said.
Also present at the IHW session, Dr Govind Makharia, Professor, Department of Gastroenterology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi said that fatty liver simply means excess of unburnt calories. On the prevalence of fatty liver disease in rural and urban areas, Dr Makharia said both these areas are susceptible and there is no difference in the incidence. “This is happening due to changing and sedentary lifestyle. Today, people in urban and rural areas are consuming more calories and doing less physical activity. Obesity and alcohol abuse are two main reasons, both in urban and rural areas,” he said.
Expressing his views on the issue, Dr. Arvinder Singh Soin, Chairman, Institute of Liver Transplantation and Regenerative Medicine, Medanta- The Medicity, Gurgaon said that liver health is in your own hands, which makes this disease highly preventable.
On liver transplants in India, he said that there is a huge gap between the demand of organ transplants and the supply. “On an average, 2500 liver transplants are conducted in India every year, but this number is very small, considering that at least 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh people get a liver disease and cancer. Out of the affected population, 50,000-60,000 people can be saved through a liver transplant. Since only 2,500 transplants are done, there is a huge gap between demand and supply,” said Dr Soin.
Dr AK Vaid, Chairman, Medical and Haemato Oncology, Cancer Institute, Medanta – The Medicity, Gurgaon, said most of the liver diseases are preventable. “But there are two challenges when one gets liver cancer. One, your liver is sick and another that there is cancer developing inside. Considering that 1 in 3 people in India has fatty liver and the growing incidence of Hepatitis B and C, we are going to confront a lot of cases in the years to come,” he said.
“Every year, liver diseases account for over 2 million or 20 lakh deaths worldwide, the majority being from complications of cirrhosis, hepatitis, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver cancer respectively. Of these 20 lakh deaths, 4 lakhs took place in India only. Besides a better and healthy lifestyle, there is a need for addressing the gap between demand and supply in organ donation. Organ donation awareness at a national level and managing viral hepatitis are also important steps in managing this disease,” said Mr Kamal Narayan, CEO, of Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.