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What is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease?

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a buildup of extra fat in the liver cells. While it is normal for the liver to contain some fat, levels more than five to 10 percent of the liver’s weight is classified as fatty liver.

Risk factors

This condition typically occurs in people who are overweight, obese or have diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides. Poor eating habits or rapid weight loss can also lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

How common is it?

Up to 25 percent of Americans are affected by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease may cause the liver to swell and cause scarring (cirrhosis) over time. This may even lead to liver cancer and liver failure.

Eating a healthy diet and exercising may help prevent liver damage in the early stages, but a doctor can best personalize a plan to improve liver health.

There are more than 100 types of known chronic liver conditions—and many disproportionately affect women. At the Katz Institute for Women’s Health, our experts are dedicated to treating liver disease in women with a personalized touch.

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