The pre-morbid statuses of people with fatty liver disease are often used to determine the causative factor of their condition irrespective of the presenting type. The major causes of fatty liver diseases have been researched and found to be either one or more of the following which directly or indirectly lead to deposition and accumulation of fatty acids in the liver:
- Alcoholism: it is alarming to know that over 80% of alcohol consumers develop fatty liver disease, however, only a fewer percentage may actually develop complications which is largely dependent on heredity and metabolic capacity of each alcoholic. Alcohol causes rapid accumulation of fatty acids in the liver.
- Diabetes: insulin resistance in diabetics has been strongly linked to the development of fatty liver due to accumulation of fatty acids in the liver released from adipose tissues.
- Obesity: excessive consumption of calories in diets and reduced physical activities results in fat storage due to imbalance in energy consumption and expenditure. The liver cells are one of the targets for fat deposition. Fatty liver is present in almost all obese people but like the alcoholics, only a few may manifest symptoms and develop complications.
- Impaired fat metabolism: any defect in the process of fat metabolism may lead to excessive storage of fat in the liver.
- Rapid weight loss: either due to extreme fad dieting, malnutrition or severe illness may stimulate fat deposition; however, studies are underway to backup this claim.
- Drugs: certain drugs such as antiviral, tetracycline, tamoxifen, corticosteroids, methrotrexate have been implicated in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in some patients.
In addition to these, some factors can predispose an individual to develop fatty liver disease irrespective of the cause: