Liver diseases affect hundreds of millions of people and cause significant illness and death. A new study indicates that liver scarring (or fibrosis), which can ultimately lead to liver failure, is fairly common. It was present in 5.6% of adults in the Rotterdam Study, a population-based study among individuals in a suburb of Rotterdam, the Netherlands, who were ≥45 years old. It was especially prevalent in individuals with diabetes or steatosis, the latter of which occurs when fat cells infiltrate the liver.

"In the context of an aging population and an increasing prevalence of diabetes and obesity, the findings illustrate that liver fibrosis may soon become a more prominent public health issue," said Dr. Sarwa Darwish Murad, co-author of the Hepatology study.

Study: Presence of Diabetes Mellitus and Steatosis is Associated with Liver Stiffness in a General Population, Edith M. Koehler, Elisabeth P.C. Plompen, Jeoffrey N.L. Schouten, Bettina E. Hansen, Sarwa Darwish Murad, Pavel Taimr, Frank W.G. Leebeek, Albert Hofman, Bruno H. Stricker, Laurent Castera and Harry L.A. Janssen, Hepatology, doi: 10.1002/hep.27981, published online 14 July 2015.