5. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Syndrome

It’s a rather long name for a rather simple condition. The Liver retains the fat it creates rather than sending it out into the bloodstream. When too much fat accumulates, it begins displacing healthy liver cells, leading to scarring and decrease of function.


In the previous page on Fructose, I explained that the Liver can only process so much at a time, the excess is converted to fat and Triglycerides. The fat remains in the Liver, but the Triglycerides go pouring out into the bloodstream to reek havoc elsewhere. The main cause of this condition is excessive alcohol consumption. As Dr. Lustig explained in his previously-mentioned presentation, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” alcohol is detoxified in the Liver and becomes Fructose. Alcohol and Fructose are primarily metabolized by the Liver. Too much Fructose becomes too much fat stored in the Liver, decreasing the number of healthy cells, further diminishing its ability to process alcohol and Fructose.

That explains the process for people who drink lots of alcohol. Those of us who are moderate or non-drinkers can still end up with the same result. Instead of consuming more alcohol than our Liver can handle, we ingest more Fructose than can be dealt with. Some healthy people can process up to 50g of Fructose at a meal, others as little as a gram or two. I believe a part of “The Shamberg Curse” involves this genetically-modified, diminished capacity to metabolize Fructose, which leads to elevated Triglyceride levels, Insulin Resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, a build-up of fat in the Liver, fibrotic scarring, and eventual Cirrhosis.

I had my first Liver biopsy recently, and the news took me by surprise. My Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Syndrome is something I knew about for quite a while, but the results of the biopsy introduced me to a new category: Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH), also known as Stage II Liver Disease. That means my Liver has begun to replace healthy cells with fibrotic scar tissue. There are currently no medical treatments, only suggested lifestyle changes: Lose Weight, Exercise, Improve Diet. Check, Check, Check.

And now I have the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over my Liver. There is a chance that healthy Liver cells can regenerate and replace the scarring but the normal course of the disease is downhill. As the Liver loses its capacity to process Fructose, more damage occurs, leading to further decrease in function, etc., ad mortem.

It is my hope that I can work with the geneticists at UCSF to further determine the underlying cause of our family curse. I have made myself available as a “Guinea Pig” so that we can figure out what the heck is causing this disorder and develop some sort of strategy to prevent further suffering for people with this condition. As we move forward, I shall report my findings here.


6. Ancestry(.com)