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Obesity and hepatotoxins as risk factors for fatty liver disease.

Hodgson M; Thiel DV; Goodman-Klein B
Br J Ind Med 1991 Oct; 48(10):690-695
A case control study was conducted to determine whether a hepatotoxin, independent of coexistent obesity, could be the cause of fatty liver disease (FLD) when alcoholism and diabetes mellitus could not explain the occurrence. Medical records and occupational histories of 19 screened cases were obtained. Potential exposures to hepatotoxins were clarified through use of material safety data sheets supplied by employers. The role of alcohol consumption was evaluated by creation of quantity codes for three points in time: maximal use, currently and at a time when potential hepatotoxin exposure existed. Exposure was evaluated first by the development of four categories then by duration, intensity, frequency and latency. Disease agents were classified as either human, animal or potential hepatotoxins. Risk factors were defined as follows: morbid obesity (body mass index greater than 30 kilograms per meter squared), maximal daily use of greater than 4 ounces of alcohol (later redefined as 1 ounce per week) and exposure to hepatotoxins. Results indicated that patients with liver disease were significantly more obese than referents. No significant differences were noted regarding the maximum amount of alcohol between cases and referents. Cases were noted to have more frequent and longer exposure to human, animal and potential hepatotoxins than referents. They were also significantly more likely to have more risk factors than the referents. The authors suggest that exposure to potential hepatotoxic agents may relate to sporadic incidences of FLD and that obesity may be connected to these incidences, the effects of the risk factors being additive. FLD cases without hepatotoxin exposure consumed more alcohol than cases with exposure indicating that low levels of alcohol consumption may also contribute to FLD. Diabetes was not indicated to be a major risk factor in this study.
NIOSH-Publication; NIOSH-Grant; Grants-other; Liver-disorders; Humans; Case-studies; Toxins; Body-weight; Risk-factors; Alcoholic-beverages; Disease-incidence
Medicine University of Pittsburgh 149 Lothrop Hall Pittsburgh, PA 15261
Publication Date
Document Type
Journal Article
Funding Amount
Funding Type
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
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Priority Area
Other Occupational Concerns; Grants-other
Source Name
British Journal of Industrial Medicine
Performing Organization
University of Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Page last reviewed: September 11, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division