Understanding Fatty Liver Disease

Understanding Fatty Liver Disease
Understanding Fatty Liver Disease


Narrator: 0:00

Welcome to the MedEvidence Monday Minute Radio Show hosted by Kevin Gettings of WSOS St. Augustine Radio and powered by ENCORE Research Group. Each Monday morning, Dr. Michael Koren calls in to bring you the latest medical updates with insightful discussions. MedEvidence is where we help you navigate the real truth behind medical research, with both a clinical and research perspective. So sit back, relax and get ready to learn about the truth behind the data in medicine and health care. This is MedEvidence.

Kevin Geddings: 0:30

Dr. Michael Koren as promised we've been talking about him joining us live on the radio and of course, he joins us on Monday mornings. He, of course, a medical doctor, a research scientist and also heads up the show at ENCORE Research Group.

Kevin Geddings: 0:43

They have offices right here in St. Johns County where they are engaged in leading edge medical research that you could participate in in all sorts of different fields, and we've talked, of course, over the years about what you all are doing in the areas of immunizations and heart disease and the like. Maybe talk a little bit about GI issues today, because that impacts a lot of our listeners out there. Off the air, we were talking about fatty liver disease. That's something that's thrown around and somebody may get that diagnosis and talk to a friend or a family member, but I'm not sure they really know what it is. I mean, I'm sure the patient does, but the rest of us probably don't know what our friend or family member is talking about. So when somebody gets that diagnosis, what's actually going on inside their bodies? Doctor.

Dr. Michael Koren: 1:23

Yeah, it's a great question and fatty liver disease is an extremely common condition. It may affect up to a third of all Americans and, very simply, it's the fact that in current life we probably eat more than we should. We probably eat the wrong foods. At the end of the day, all this accumulates in the liver. Now, our liver's pretty capable. It can handle a certain amount, but at some point the fat accumulation in the liver will cause inflammation and that inflammation turns into fibrosis, which is a bit of a hardening, and then ultimately cirrhosis, which is scarring, and once it gets to cirrhosis, that becomes irreversible. So what can start as a very benign condition, which is just a little bit too much fat in your liver because of what you're eating, can turn into scarring and ultimately actually can cause you to need a liver transplant. So it's a spectrum of disease that starts with just a little fat accumulation of liver and a lot of people, over time this leads to inflammation, fibrosis and then scarring.

Kevin Geddings: 2:24

We were talking about another GI issue that has to deal with MASH versus NASH. Get us up to date on that, doctor.

Dr. Michael Koren: 2:30

Yeah. So what's in a name? And in the medical profession we constantly have these discussions about what's the best name to capture the condition, and for many, many years we called fatty liver disease either NASH N-A-S-H or NAFLD N-A-F-L-D. NASH stood for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, which basically means that you have fatty liver disease and you have some inflammation related to the accumulation of fat, and this is not related to alcohol, which in many cases is something you need to rule out in patients that present with liver problems. NAFLD stood for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease N-A-F-L-D.

Dr. Michael Koren: 3:14

Well, the great powers have decided that that wasn't really a good way to describe what's going on, and now it's called MASH, which stands for metabolic dysfunction associated steatohepatitis, and what's that really is making the point is that we have lots of folks, of course, in our country who are overweight, who tend to be 20 pounds more overweight, are much more likely to have fatty liver disease. This problem is associated with diabetes, associated with obesity, particularly in the abdominal area, and what happens over time is that some of these folks will again get inflammation in the liver, fibrosis and then ultimately scarring. But the good news is that we have ways to intervene now and I'm sure we'll talk more about that, but the number one way, of course, is to lose weight, which is extremely difficult for some people, but you and I have talked about this before. We have many ways to help people with that at this point, both from a research standpoint and from a clinical standpoint.

Kevin Geddings: 4:16

Right, so with the advent of Ozempic and Wegovy and all these quote using my air quotes here miracle weight loss drugs, if those have become more widely utilized, can we expect a reduction in fatty liver disease and other complications?

Dr. Michael Koren: 4:32

I believe so. In fact, that's what we're studying now, so people who are hearing our conversation can actually get involved in one of these programs. We are now specifically doing weight loss programs with drugs like Ozempic, to see whether or not that helps people that have fatty liver disease, and the early signs are that it probably will. But again, that's what we do in research is we test these ideas and see whether that is true.

Kevin Geddings: 4:57

So folks listening to us, Dr. Koren, if they have received a diagnosis of fatty liver disease or if they are obese, they should check out ENCOREdocs. com to learn how they can participate in some weight loss studies, right?

Dr. Michael Koren: 5:10

Absolutely, and again, we don't like to say this is just quote weight loss. Hopefully weight loss will be a nice side effect of the treatment, if you will, but we're really trying to protect your liver in these types of studies and we're excited. We've been part of these studies for a number of years now and there appears to be a breakthrough product that's not on the market yet but will hopefully be out on the market that we helped develop and it's an interesting drug that stimulates your thyroid in a unique way. It's not directly stimulating your thyroid, but it's acting as if it is, and that seems to have some benefit for people that have fatty liver disease. So a lot of different strategies out there to help people that have this problem. And again, the type of people that have it are people who are overweight, typically 20 pounds or more overweight. People have diabetes associated with hypertension and truncal obesity.

Kevin Geddings: 6:01

Well, once again, if you have that diagnosis or if that sounds like your situation doesn't hurt to get information and that's what they do at ENCORE Research Group I'll share with you information about the studies that are going on. You make the decision as to whether you want to participate or not. Sometimes there's financial compensation involved.

Kevin Geddings: 6:17

There's absolutely the opportunity to receive some of the best healthcare you'll ever get because you're gonna be working with them on a regular, if not weekly, monthly basis. So learn more by going to ENCOREDoc. com and know that you can call their offices very close to UF Flagler Hospital here in St. Augustine at 904-730-0166. And, Dr. Michael Koren, before we let you go, there's a really good resource out there for folks who wanna just get facts about healthcare and health research, right?

Dr. Michael Koren: 6:51

There is. Before I get to that, though, there's one other quick thing on NASH / now MASH which is that people who call may get a free fibroscan, which is a technology that we use to tell you whether or not you have that liver disease. So it's one of the nice things about being part of the ENCORE Research family is that we'll give free tests for folks, and this test in particular is a test that's not widely available, so people may wanna take advantage of that opportunity just to let whoever picks up the phone know that they heard our conversation and that they're interested in being diagnosed as to whether or not they have that liver disease, and we'll be more than happy to do that at no cost. And then getting to your last question about our platform to share medical information.

Dr. Michael Koren: 7:35

We call that MedE vidence, and this is based on the concept that all scientific breakthroughs come through good evidence which we get from clinical trials, and we encourage people to take a look at the website MedEvidence. com and learn more about whatever medical condition they may have, and one of the things to find there is that we're not trying to pitch any particular drug or product or procedure. We're trying to get people to understand the truth behind the data and we're part of that process by getting people involved in clinical research. So we're excited about this web platform. We also have print publications, if you prefer that but more importantly is just to get the information, to learn objectively about what matters and what doesn't matter in healthcare and listen to really trusted physicians. Having these discussions.

Kevin Geddings: 8:21

Good stuff. Check out the website once again MedEvidence. com. And if you're dealing with obesity issues and fatty liver disease and other GI issues or heart issues and so many others, take a look at the website ENCOREdocs. com. It's local, right here in our part of Northeast Florida. Dr. Michael Koren, Thank you for all your time this morning. We hope you have a good week, okay?

Dr. Michael Koren: 8:45

I appreciate it, Kevin, be well.

Narrator: 8:46

Thanks for joining the MedEvidence podcast. To learn more, head over to MedEvidence. com or subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.

Unlock the mysteries of fatty liver disease with Dr. Michael Koren on this week's MedEvidence Monday Minute. Arm yourself with the knowledge to tackle an ailment affecting a staggering one-third of Americans - Fatty Liver disease, from a benign excess of fat to a potentially lethal condition known as cirrhosis. 

This week's discussion sheds light on the nuances between MASH and NASH—two sides of the same coin in the realm of liver health, and how lifestyle choices are at the heart of this growing epidemic. Dr. Koren doesn't just leave us with dire warnings; he brings hope, outlining intervention strategies ranging from lifestyle changes to revolutionary clinical treatments. Whether you're seeking to manage this condition or simply aiming to stay informed, Dr. Koren's blend of expertise and practical advice offers a beacon of hope for anyone navigating the complexities of metabolic dysfunction and its impact on liver health.

Be a part of advancing science by participating in clinical research.

Recording Date: March 25, 2024
Powered by ENCORE Research Group
Music: Storyblocks - Corporate Inspired