Study Examines Non-alcoholic Liver Disease

BETHESDA, Md., April 29 (UPI) — U.S. medical researchers suggest a daily dose of a specific form of vitamin E can significantly improve a liver disease called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

The multi-center National Institutes of Health-funded study also found a drug used to treat diabetes — Actos (pioglitazone) — also improved many features of the liver disease, but was associated with weight gain.

The scientists said the disease is a chronic liver malady that is linked to weight gain and obesity and can lead to cirrhosis (scarring), liver cancer and death. Although resembling alcoholic liver disease, it occurs in patients who drink little or no alcohol.

There is currently no approved treatment for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

The scientists said their findings suggest the specific form of vitamin E (RRR-alpha-tocopherol) improved all features of the disease, except the degree of cirrhosis in the liver. While Actos improved liver inflammation and retention of lipids in 34 percent of individuals, it fell short of being statistically significant.

The study that included scientists from the Cleveland Clinic; the Virginia Mason Medical Center; the University of California-San Diego and San Francisco; Washington University in St. Louis;, and Case Western Reserve, Duke, Indiana, Johns Hopkins, Saint Louis and Virginal Commonwealth universities appears online in the early online edition of the New England Journal of Medicine.

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