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Liver expert Dr. Sammy Saab at the University of California, Los Angeles, believes vitamin E could potentially become the initial treatment for advanced cases of the liver problem.
"For patients who are really at risk of progressive liver disease, I think it's worthwhile. For the vast majority who just have fatty liver, I'm not sure it will help them at all," said Saab, who had no role in the study.
Dr. Zobair Younossi, executive director of research at the nonprofit Inova Health System in Virginia, said people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease at the very least should make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet and exercising to shed the pounds.
While vitamin E may help certain people with obesity-related liver disease, "I wouldn't get started on high-dose vitamin E without discussing it first with a doctor," said Younossi, who has no connection to the research.
In recent years, hype over vitamin supplements in treating major diseases has not panned out. A 2008 study found that vitamins C and E pills do not ward off heart disease in men and vitamin E even appeared to raise the risk of bleeding strokes. Another study found the same supplements do not help prevent cancer in men.
On the Net:
New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/
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