Common liver disease expected to rise sharply in next 25 years

The most common form of chronic liver disease is expected to steadily rise over the next 25 years, adding significant burden to the medical system as a new model predicts nearly twice as many liver cancers and almost triple the need for liver transplantation by 2050, according to a study scheduled for presentation at The Liver Meeting, held by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Rising rates of obesity and diabetes are blamed for the anticipated increase in prevalence of the disease currently known as metabolic dysfunction-associated steatosic liver disease or MASLD -; a label that was recently updated by medical organizations around the world to reduce stigma associated with the previous name, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and to better describe common causes of the condition, which affects more than 30% of the global population.

"With diabetes and obesity rates on the rise, MASLD is expected to become the leading reason for liver transplants in the U.S.," said Phuc Le, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine and lead researcher on the study, which created a mathematical model that anticipated annual population trends and the incidence and progression of MASLD. Hepatitis C is currently the most common cause of liver disease, followed by damage caused by long-term alcohol use.

Le's model predicts a 23% rise in MASLD among adults in the U.S., affecting 27.8%. adults in 2020 and climbing to 34.3% by 2050. The most severe form of the disease is also expected to rise, resulting in nearly twice as many liver cancers each year, a jump from 10,400 new cancers a year in 2020 to an estimated 19,300 by 2050, and almost triple the need for liver transplants, from 1,700 cases in 2020 to 4,200 anticipated cases in 2050.

Liver diseases often progress silently, with symptoms appearing only in advanced stages. Increased awareness is essential to maximize the opportunities to prevent liver complications. Early detection and timely interventions can make a difference – which is why AASLD is dedicated to equipping clinicians with the knowledge and skills needed to bring about improved health outcomes."

Norah Terrault, MD, MPH, FAASLD, AASLD President

Phuc Le, PhD, will present the study, "Projection of the Clinical Burden of NAFLD (MASLD) in US Adults from 2020-2050: A Modeling Study," abstract 2245-A, on Saturday, November 11, at 1:00 p.m. EDT.

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