At least 18 million Filipinos are either suffering from or at risk of a disease considered a silent epidemic.
This is one of the alarming pieces of information presented at the recent online press conference titled “Fatty Liver Facts: What You Need to Know About This Silent Epidemic” organized by the Hepatology Society of the Philippines (HSP).
The “silent epidemic” is called fatty liver disease, which affects millions around the world. It has no symptoms at the early stages, which is why many people are unaware that they have it until it’s too late.
“Fatty liver disease is a little-known, potentially fatal condition affecting many people,” says Dr. Allan Policarpio, President of the Philippine Society of Gastroenterology. “The public can learn about it by listening to experts.”
There are two types of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)—non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and its more advanced type, the non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The main characteristic of both is too much fat stored in liver cells. Having small amounts of fat in the liver is normal, but it becomes a problem if more than five to ten percent of the liver’s weight is fat.
Dr. Edhel S. Tripon of HSP states that fatty liver is the fastest rising cause of liver cancer and cirrhosis worldwide. “People who are overweight, diabetic, or hypertensive are prone to developing fatty liver.” The Philippines has over 18 million obese and overweight people. They are all susceptible to NAFLD.
The Hepatology Society of the Philippines is the lead organization in the study and care of liver health and disease among Filipinos. HSP provides research, education, and advocacy on liver health and liver-related diseases. Part of its mission is to share information, services, and expertise with the global community towards the prevention and treatment of liver diseases.