Liver cirrhosis more prevalent than thought

New research has found that cirrhosis of the liver may be more common in the U.S. than previously thought.

Liver cirrhosis, the 12th leading cause of death overall in the U.S. causes irreversible scarring that prevents the liver from functioning properly. A main cause includes sustained excessive alcohol consumption--although it also can be caused by hepatitis C--and the condition can lead to liver failure and cancer.

Scientists from the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine collected data from an annual U.S. population survey to estimate the prevalence of liver cirrhosis in the general U.S. population, which was previously thought to be approximately 400,000 cases. They found instead that more than 633.000 adults in the U.S. have cirrhosis of the liver, which is about 0.27percent of the population.

The researchers also found that about 69 percent of people in the U.S. with liver cirrhosis do not realize that they have it.

Researchers said that one limitation of the study was that people with mild liver disease may have been counted as those with cirrhosis of the liver. However, even so, the results of the study, which were published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, suggest that the general population and medical professionals should take measures to help prevent liver cirrhosis, as about 50 percent of cases are caused by preventable factors.

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