Aspirin May Cut Liver Fat, Study Suggests

Low-dose aspirin can reduce liver fat by 10%, showing promise in treating the most common cause of chronic liver disease.

Metabolic dysfunction–associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD), formerly known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, is characterized by excess fat buildup in the liver that is not caused by alcohol.

One in four American adults is thought to have MASLD, which is the most common cause of chronic liver disease and is the leading cause of liver-related morbidity and mortality.

A phase 2 randomized clinical trial published in JAMA Network suggests that a common painkiller aspirin can be used to reduce liver fat.

The study included 80 individuals with MASLD who were randomly assigned to take 81 mg of aspirin daily or a placebo pill for six months.

Those who took aspirin saw their liver fat content decrease by 6.6% on average, compared to a 3.6% increase in the placebo group. The findings suggest that low-dose aspirin can cut liver fat content by 10.2% compared with a placebo.

Aspirin for liver fat reduction was found to be safe and well tolerated, with the most common side effects being upper respiratory tract infection and joint pain. One participant in the aspirin group experienced drug-related heartburn.

Brian Secemsky, M.D., a board-certified physician and medical director, called the study findings impressive.

“If future evidence points to a clinically significant decrease in known harms from MASH, it will be a game changer discovery,” Secemsky wrote on X, referring to the subcategory of MASLD.

However, further research in larger populations is necessary to confirm the findings.

What causes MASLD?

The exact causes of MASLD are unknown, although research suggests that certain diseases, genetics, and diet may increase the risk of developing the condition.

People with the following conditions and diseases are more likely to develop MASLD:

  • Overweight or obesity
  • Insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes
  • High levels of triglycerides and cholesterol
  • Metabolic syndrome

Researchers are looking at whether diets high in fructose — a type of sugar — may increase the risk of MASLD.

For those already with the condition, doctors may recommend limiting the intake of fats, especially saturated fats and trans fats.

The patients are advised to eat more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while cutting down on high-glycemic index foods like white bread, white rice, and potatoes. If you are diagnosed with MASLD, avoid foods and drinks high in sugar, such as sweetened soft drinks, sports drinks, and juices.

Some other causes of excess liver fat may be outside your control and include the following:

  • Lipodystrophies, disorders that cause your body to use or store fat improperly
  • Rapid weight loss or malnutrition
  • Medicines like corticosteroids, HIV treatment, and some cancer medicines
  • Exposure to some toxins
  • Rare genetic diseases like Wilson disease and hypobetalipoproteinemia

Although aspirin is a promising MASLD treatment, do not replace your regular medications with aspirin to reduce liver fat.

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