When the amount of fat in the liver exceeds 5% to 10% of the organ's weight, hepatic steatosis occurs. Up to 100 million Americans have fatty liver disease, and some are not even aware of it, as the condition can be asymptomatic. In severe cases, hepatic steatosis can lead to liver damage. The following are some of the complications of untreated fatty liver disease, which people who spent time at Camp Lejeune are prone to developing:
- chronic kidney disease
- psychological dysfunction
- colorectal cancer
- gastroesophageal reflux disease
- obstructive sleep apnea syndrome
- growth hormone deficiency
- polycystic ovarian syndrome
Furthermore, hepatic steatosis can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis, which, in turn, may cause liver failure and liver cancer. If you were stationed at Camp Lejeune either as military personnel or as a civilian and developed fatty liver disease, we strongly encourage you to get in touch with our attorneys. They will efficiently help you file a Camp Lejeune toxic water claim or lawsuit and a VA claim if you are a veteran.
PFAS exposure is correlated with a higher level of enzymes, which is a hallmark of hepatic steatosis
Recent medical studies found that exposure to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, which have been contaminating the drinking water at Camp Lejeune since 1967, is associated with hepatic steatosis.
In a 2022 analysis published in the medical journal Environmental Health Perspectives, researchers assessed over 100 studies and discovered that PFAS exposure is largely associated with a higher level of enzymes, which is one of the hallmarks of fatty liver disease. The review focused on liver damage associated with the most studied PFAS, namely:
Upon entering the body, PFAS act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with hormones. Because of their chemical structure, they can also harm the body by mimicking fatty acids. According to researchers, PFAS may activate the same receptors that fatty acids do, which could lead to fat accumulation in the liver. Exposure to PFAS is linked to other biomarkers of fatty liver disease, such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and uric acid.
Exposure to industrial solvents can also result in hepatic steatosis. A study from the American Journal of Industrial Medicine suggests that long-term exposure to organic solvents may play a role in the development of fatty liver disease. Perchloroethylene, one of the solvents from this category, lurked in the drinking water at Camp Lejeune from the very establishment of the military base. Finally, another study published in the Annals of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that exposure to trichloroethylene and lead can impact liver function, being able to cause fatty liver disease as well. The former is another solvent that was present in the drinking water of the military facility.