Along with the increase in obesity and diabetes, fatty liver is becoming more and more common. Over 25% of the population may be diagnosed with it. Risk factors include abdominal obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and elevated triglycerides. About 20% of people with fatty livers will develop inflammation of the fat leading to NASH which is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. The hepatitis part refers to liver inflammation caused by fat.
No one knows why the fat can cause inflammation and scarring in the liver but there is a strong genetic component. If someone in your family died of cirrhosis but was not a heavy alcohol drinker, then you may be more at risk for NASH. Also primary liver cancer is more common in people with NASH.
If you have the diagnosis of fatty liver, you should investigate this diagnosis more by having a Fibroscan which measures the amount of fat and fibrosis in the liver. This test is a pulse of sound through the liver. It is related to an ultrasound and is non-invasive.
If the Fibroscan shows evidence of fibrosis (or scar tissue), a biopsy of the liver may be indicated to determine the extent of the liver damage.