Monday, May 20, 2024

Unveiling the Connection: Acanthosis Nigricans as a Potential Sign of Liver Damage

Acanthosis Nigricans (AN), a skin condition marked by thickening, dark pigmentation, and a velvety appearance, could be an early warning sign of liver damage, especially in individuals with Type 2 diabetes, suggests recent research.

As diabetes continues to proliferate in India, concerns about its impact on various organs, particularly the liver, have escalated. While the adverse effects of diabetes on organs like the eyes, kidneys, nerves, hands, and feet are well-documented, the liver’s vulnerability to diabetes-related complications remains relatively understudied.

Dr. Anoop Misra, chairman of Fortis-C-DOC Centre of Excellence for Diabetes, Metabolic Diseases, and Endocrinology, explains, “Diabetes stands as one of the primary causes of liver damage globally. It occurs due to the accumulation of fat in the liver, progressively impairing its function. Factors such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and obesity exacerbate this condition.”

Typically, liver damage manifests with minimal early symptoms. Abdominal pain, reduced appetite, or jaundice are usually reported in clinical settings only when significant damage has occurred. In response to this challenge, researchers from Fortis C-Doc Hospital for Diabetes and Allied Sciences, along with All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Diabetes Foundation (India), and National Diabetes Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation (NDOC), have identified an early indicator of liver damage in Type 2 diabetes patients.

This indicator is Acanthosis Nigricans (AN), a skin condition characterized by thickening, dark pigmentation, and a velvety texture of the skin. While commonly found around the neck, AN may also appear in areas such as the armpits, elbows, knees, and groin. Its presence suggests a heightened risk of liver cell damage, urging individuals to seek medical attention promptly.

A recent ICMR-INDIAB study, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, reveals that India is currently home to 101 million diabetes patients, with an additional 136 million individuals classified as pre-diabetic. Dr. Mishra highlights, “Poor blood sugar control, defined by glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1C) concentrations exceeding 7%, affects about two-thirds of diabetes patients in India, with many having HbA1C levels surpassing 8%.”

Dr. Mishra emphasizes that two common mistakes made by diabetics are “poor adherence to diet and exercise” and opting for alternative therapies over prescribed medications. He attributes these choices partly to the lack of awareness regarding how mismanagement of diabetes can jeopardize not only the quality of life but also the health of other vital organs.

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