We Are Becoming Human Foie Gras

Foie Gras is a French delicacy.  It’s also kind of gross:

To produce “foie gras” (the French term means “fatty liver”), workers ram pipes down the throats of male ducks twice each day, pumping up to 2.2 pounds of grain and fat into their stomachs, or geese three times a day, up to 4 pounds daily, in a process known as “gavage.” The force-feeding causes the birds’ livers to swell to up to 10 times their normal size. Many birds have difficulty standing because their engorged livers distend their abdomens, and they may tear out their own feathers and attack each other out of stress.

Would ducks do this on their own?  No.  Would we? Yes.

Here are the causes of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) per the NIH website:

Causes of NAFLD

You are more likely to develop NAFLD—either simple fatty liver or NASH—if you

  • are overweight or obese
  • have insulin resistance
  • have abnormal levels of fats in your blood, which may include
  • have metabolic syndrome or one or more traits of metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of traits and medical conditions linked to overweight and obesity. People with metabolic syndrome are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Experts think NAFLD may be closely linked to metabolic syndrome. Doctors define metabolic syndrome as the presence of any three of the following:
    • large waist size
    • high levels of triglycerides in your blood
    • low levels of HDL cholesterol in your blood
    • high blood pressure
    • higher than normal blood glucose levels
  • have type 2 diabetes

Research also suggests that certain genes may make you more likely to develop NAFLD. Experts are still studying the genes that may play a role in NAFLD.

In NAFLD, people have a buildup of fat in the liver that is not caused by alcohol use. If you have a history of heavy alcohol use and fat in your liver, your doctor may determine that you have alcoholic liver disease instead of NAFLD.

Causes of NASH

Experts are not sure why some people with NAFLD have NASH and others have simple fatty liver. Research suggests that certain genes may play a role.

People with NAFLD are more likely to have NASH if they have one or more of the following conditions:

  • obesity, especially with a large waist size
  • high blood pressure
  • high levels of triglycerides or abnormal levels of cholesterol in their blood
  • type 2 diabetes
  • metabolic syndrome

So, to summarize, you get NAFLD from overeating and then NASH from…more overeating.  We are those ducks. I bring this up because “results of a recent study showed that nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was the most rapidly growing cause of hepatocellular carcinoma among U.S. patients listed for liver transplantation.”  Add to this that it may soon become the most common cause of liver transplantation and it should scare the hell of out all of us.  How can we control healthcare costs when Americans are eating themselves into liver transplants? (See yesterday’s Friday funny)

This is not easily fixable unless…unless Soylent Green becomes a reality.  These same people would be then be delicacies.  Human foie gras would be in high demand where other fat people would eat it and the circle of life would be complete.

I have completely grossed myself out.

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Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  2 comments for “We Are Becoming Human Foie Gras

  1. Kurt
    July 4, 2018 at 7:46 pm

    I have a serious business card that says,” Eat S**t and die” with the S**t spelled out clearly.
    Gets a lot of laughs at medical meetings and from patients many of whom know it’s true.
    If they’re insulted and get another doc, fine by me. Probably wouldn’t be a good fit. If they recognize the humor and truth, my kind of person!

  2. david
    July 4, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    As an intern (over 4 decades ago) I had a patient who was morbidly obese, had a blood glucose of 600, triglycerides of 2,000, and who was hard to deal with partly because she claimed she was carefully following her 1200 calorie diet. She probably also had NAFLD.
    I had a fantasy — the hospital was besieged by a hungry dragon, and St. George and his fellow dragon slayers were on vacation. What to do? We pushed that patient out the door. The dragon ate her, and she was like a huge syrup-coated cream puff. That killed the dragon’s appetite. He wandered off to take a nap (or have a dragon MI) and the rest of us were saved.

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