Researchers have called for obesity surgery to be subsidised after new research showing a strong link between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and cancer.
The fresh calls come ahead of next week’s Australian Gastrointestinal Week meeting in Melbourne, where the research will be cited.
Obesity has been shown to lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease as well as type 2 diabetes.
About 5.5 million Australians are affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
ANU professor of hepatic medicine Geoff Farrell said obesity surgery, such as lap-band surgery, needs to be subsidised by Medicare.
‘We’re not supporting an operation that can basically cure a population,’ Prof Farrell said.
‘That’s horrendous when you think that 12 per cent of the population have diabetes.’
He also called for better ways of engaging the population around healthy lifestyles.
‘We all pay levies for our health but we don’t have rebates for being healthy, like rebates for joining a gym,’ Prof Farrell said.
The research showed through animal models that an increased risk in liver cancer may be related to the insulin circulated in overweight people.
Despite liver cancer being the fastest growing form of cancer in Australia, Prof Farrell said it is greatly under-researched.