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Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis Treatment: Benefit of Vitamin E

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Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASD) is a common liver disease that can progress to cirrhosis. The symptoms of NASD are vague, such as malaise and fatigue. According to Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine, obesity increases the risk of developing this condition. Currently, weight loss and a regime of regular physical activity are recommended treatment. An article in the May 16, 2010 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine discussed a recent study that shows the promising benefit of vitamin E in treating patients with NASD.

Lead researcher, Arun J. Sanyal, M. D., and colleagues randomly assigned 247 individual with NASD and without diabetes to three test groups. Of this group, 80 people received 30 mg of pioglitazone daily, 84 subjects took 800 IU vitamin E each day, and 83 individuals were given a daily placebo. The test period lasted for 96 days. Pioglitazone is an anti-diabetic drug used to treat type 2 diabetes by restoring the body’s normal response to insulin and lowering blood sugar. There was a significantly higher rate of histologic or microscopic tissue structure improvement of the liver with the use of vitamin E. In comparison to taking a placebo, 43 percent of the people who received vitamin E were noted to have improvement while 19 percent of the people who took a placebo had improvement in NASD. Comparing pioglitazone to the placebo, 34 percent who took pioglitazone showed improvement and 19 percent who took the placebo had improvement. Individuals who took pioglitazone gained more weight during the test period than their counterparts taking vitamin E and a placebo. The team concluded that vitamin E was superior to a placebo for treatment of NASD in adults without diabetes.

Source: Cecil’s Textbook of Medicine, Neurology, and General Medicine
Pioglitazone, Vitamin E or Placebo for Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
Arun J. Sanyal, M.D. et al. New England Journal of Medicine
Volume 362 :1675-1685 May 16, 2010 www.nejm.org

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