Objective: To evaluate the association between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and all cause and cause specific mortality in a representative sample of the US general population. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: US Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III: 1988-94) with follow-up of mortality to 2006. Participants: 11 371 adults aged 20-74 participating in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, with assessment of hepatic steatosis. Main outcome measure: Mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and liver disease (up to 18 years of follow-up). Results: The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with and without increased levels of liver enzymes in the population was 3.1% and 16.4%, respectively. Compared with participants without steatosis, those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease but normal liver enzyme levels had multivariate adjusted hazard ratios for deaths from all causes of 0.92 (95% confidence interval 0.78 to 1.09), from cardiovascular disease of 0.86 (0.67 to 1.12), from cancer of 0.92 (0.67 to 1.27), and from liver disease of 0.64 (0.12 to 3.59). Compared with participants without steatosis, those with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and increased liver enzyme levels had adjusted hazard ratios for deaths from all causes of 0.80 (0.52 to 1.22), from cardiovascular disease of 0.59 (0.29 to 1.20), from cancer of 0.53 (0.26 to 1.10), and from liver disease of 1.17 (0.15 to 8.93). Conclusions: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was not associated with an increased risk of death from all causes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, or liver disease.
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