A ‘visible’ sign of fatty liver disease that can appear on the face could signal cancer risk

Liver disease can be divided into several subtypes, but both chronic and acute variants of the disease are known to appear on the skin. Skin manifestations can range from subtle to more obvious, depending on the stage of the disease. In advanced stages, the face may show a skin condition that has been found to correlate with higher rates of liver cancer.

The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology explains that “rosacea, a common skin condition that affects middle-aged people, has […] have been associated with major metabolic diseases.”

The health authority explains that non-alcoholic fatty disease (NAFLD) alters the transcription of genes that control follicle differentiation.

Thus, “the appearance of rosacea may be a highly visible biomarker for fatty liver disease,” explains Health Body.

It goes on to say, “The association between rosacea and NAFLD may have important implications for risk assessment of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease in middle age.”

READ MORE: A sign in your stool that could signal severe fatty liver disease

In 2017, a Danish study found that people with rosacea have a higher risk of developing liver cancer, skin cancer, and breast cancer.

The results, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, failed to prove a causal relationship, meaning more research is needed before any such conclusions can be drawn.

The study aimed to examine the likelihood that rosacea patients would be diagnosed with 13 different forms of cancer.

The researchers analyzed the five-year medical history of more than 50,000 patients and more than 4,000,000 controls.


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The results showed no increased risk of certain types of cancer, including esophageal, kidney, thyroid, pancreatic, and ovarian cancers.

However, researchers have found that patients with rosacea have a 42% higher risk of developing liver cancer.

Moreover, the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer and breast cancer was found to be 36% and 25% higher, respectively, among patients with rosacea.

Interestingly, evidence suggests that patients with rosacea may have a 22% lower risk of developing lung cancer than the general population.

READ MORE: Three signs on your skin that could signal severe fatty liver disease

A previous study by Dr. Alexander Egeberg, who led the study, found an association between rosacea and an increased risk of death from liver disease and alcoholic cirrhosis.

Rosacea is widely described as a long-term condition that causes inflammation and redness in the face.

Redness usually first concentrates on the cheeks and nose and gradually spreads to the forehead and chin.

According to Harvard Health, the condition typically affects fair-skinned adults in their 30s and 50s who have a history of blushing easily.

“Women develop rosacea more often than men, but men are more likely to develop bumps, enlarged noses, a condition called rhinophyma,” the health authority explained.

Because the condition is easily confused with sunburn, it is often underdiagnosed and largely overlooked by medical practitioners.

Before concluding that human rosacea signals liver disease, it may be worth looking at other key markers of fatty liver disease.

The most reliable symptoms of the disease include abdominal pain, nausea, yellowing of the skin, and swelling of the abdomen and lower extremities.

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