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Diseases & Conditions

Is your liver at risk?

July 01, 2019

Many Americans have fatty liver disease, a condition that can lead to serious liver problems.

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If you're not a big drinker, you may not give much thought to the health of your liver. But there might be reason to be concerned. An estimated 64 million Americans have an often-symptomless liver condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which may put them at risk not only for serious liver disease, but for heart disease as well.

Many people — including doctors — didn't pay much attention to NAFLD until the 1980s, but life insurance companies have had this issue on their radar for years, says Dr. Michelle Lai, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. They knew that an abnormal liver blood test could reflect a lower life expectancy, and they set the premium higher or decline to insure people with the condition, she says.

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