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Risk of Permanent Liver Damage Increases With Prolonged Sitting, Researchers Say

( [email protected] ) Sep 17, 2015 07:02 PM EDT
Risks of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) may increase with prolonged sitting, accord to findings by researchers in South Korea.

Risks of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) may increase with prolonged sitting, accord to findings by researchers in South Korea.

"The amount of time spent doing sedentary activities such as sitting at a computer or watching TV has dramatically increased in recent years," Yoosoo Chang, MD, PhD, department of physical education, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea, told Healio.com. "More than half of the average person's waking day involves sedentary activities. ... From the viewpoint of public health, reducing sitting time could have a substantial impact in liver metabolic health in the general population."

Chang's colleagues also included Seungho Ryu, who is the lead investigator. Ryu hails from the Seoul's Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine.

The study involved 139,056 middle-aged Korean men and women. Between March 2011 and December 2013, short-form questionnaires were sent out to individuals inquiring about their level of physical activity. This was followed up with a physical exam to check for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It was discovered that over 28 percent of those who participated (about 38,000) had the illness. Other researchers expressed concern over the findings.

"The report by Ryu and colleagues expands the relationship between sedentary behavior and cardiometabolic health to include people with NAFLD. ... [It] adds to the strong and alarming evidence that sitting too much and moving too little has significant negative consequences for cardiometabolic health. The challenge for us now is to 'stand up' and move for NAFLD, both physically and metaphorically," said Michael I. Trenell, PhD, professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at Newcastle University, United Kingdom

If left untreated, fat cells in the liver can lead to inflammation in that organ. In turn, the patient becomes more susceptible to cirrhosis - an irreversible severe scarring of the liver. At this point, doctors can only look for methods to delay further damage. The Korean researchers concluded that that reducing sitting time and increasing physical activity will reduce the risk of NAFLD.