Silent Tsunami- Liver Disease in Latinos

In nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), there are significant racial and ethnic disparities coexisting within it. In the United States, however, its prevalence is highest among Hispanics. Liver disease is ripping through the Latino community like a silent tsunami not only in adults but children too. Knowing why Hispanics are at the highest risk and what they can do to reduce them becomes more vital with each passing day. 

Fatty Liver Disease Overview

Fatty liver disease occurs when 5% or more of the liver cells contain fat. A variety of conditions can lead to fat accumulation in the liver. An unhealthy diet and inactivity can cause it too. The excess is stored in the liver when you’re consuming more fat than your body can use. Over time, the excess fat can trigger the body’s healing process, which eventually damages and scars the liver. A simple fatty liver can lead to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a more severe form of fatty liver disease. 

NASH can lead to cirrhosis, liver cancer, and liver failure. About a quarter of the world’s population has NAFLD. This number is rising along with rates of other diseases tied to dietary habits such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol. 

Why the Increased Risk for Latinos?

Liver disease is very prevalent in the Hispanic population, +and it is a leading cause of death. The risk factors include:

  • Obesity– Obesity affects 43% of Hispanics in the US. Obesity is also affecting Hispanics at an alarming rate, suggesting that higher rates of NASH and liver cancer will lead to higher mortality rates.
  • Metabolic syndrome affects 35% of US Hispanics and is a risk factor for NAFLD/NASH. 
  • Food intake– Diets typically consisting of high amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. 
  • Genetics– About half of all Hispanics and Latinos carry a gene called PNPLA3 that raises their risk of fatty liver disease significantly.

Changing the Future of Fatty Liver Disease

By knowing the risks of fatty liver disease and being proactive in their liver health, Hispanic populations can begin to reduce the impact in their communities. If one family can eat healthier and be more active, we can end the Hispanic prevalence of fatty liver disease. 

Fatty liver disease is known to be 1.4 times more frequent in Hispanic populations

At Impact Research Institute, we are committed to helping you gain and maintain your liver health. We offer FREE fibroscans for adults at risk of liver disease. For those whose fibroscan results indicate the presence of liver disease, clinical trials may be an option. To learn more, call (254) 294-4780 or visit our website today!


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