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U of M study finds obesity-related cirrhosis becoming a bigger problem for the elderly

(courtesy of HIVandHepatitis.com)

A new University of Michigan study finds a particular type of liver disease is becoming increasingly common among the elderly.  

Cirrhosis is a chronic condition that slowly deteriorates the liver. Long associated with alcoholism and Hepatitis C,  obesity now  is linked to a growing percentage of Cirrhosis patients.   

Mina Rakoski  is a fellow at the University of Michigan Medical School's Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. She says the costs of taking care of an elderly cirrhosis patient are greater than other elderly patients. 

“A lot of these people can’t do very much around the house…as our study showed," says Rakoski, "If you look at it from a global perspective, it affects not only the patient, but also their friends and family members who have to contribute more of their time to help them around the house.”   

Rakoski says doctors should talk more with their patients about healthy lifestyle choices to reduce problems with cirrhosis later in life.  

The U of M study finds patients with cirrhosis were more likely to be Hispanic, have less education, and have lower net worth.  

The study appears in the journal Hepatology.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.