DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I am a 71-year-old woman, overweight most of my life but otherwise healthy and active. Some years ago, I took a statin drug for elevated cholesterol. My liver enzymes rose, and the drug was discontinued but the enzyme levels remained high and they have continued to increase. I was tested for many liver illnesses without positive results. Very recently, an ultrasound resulted in the diagnosis of NAFLD, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Considering the large number of Americans who suffer from this problem, will you please say something about NAFLD? – E.B.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is definitely not unusual. It’s found in 40 percent of the overweight population and in 3 percent of those with normal weight. Carrying too much weight definitely influences its appearance.

For most, it’s a silent condition, not causing any symptoms. It does, however, raise the blood level of liver enzymes. Enzymes are proteins within cells that keep cell chemistry moving at optimal speed. When enzyme blood level rises, it indicates cell damage.

NAFLD can progress to liver inflammation, which, in turn, can progress to liver cirrhosis, so it isn’t an inconsequential condition.

Weight loss is all-important. Often, that single step corrects the problem. Quite frequently, people with NAFLD are insensitive to the action of insulin, and blood sugar is higher than it should be. Oral diabetic medicines are sometimes prescribed for those people.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: My sister sent me an article from her newspaper in which you answered a question about a colon cancer syndrome, called the Lynch syndrome. My maiden name is Lynch. On my father’s side, we had several cases of colon cancer. Is this the Lynch family you referred to? – K.T.

The Lynch syndrome is named after Dr. Henry T. Lynch, a cancer specialist at Creighton University Medical School in Omaha, Neb. He was the first to describe it. It also goes by the name hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer. This kind of colon cancer appears at younger ages than the more common colon cancer, and it is found on the right side of the colon rather than its usual position on the left side. It’s suspected when three or more relatives have had colon cancer at younger ages and when one of these three relatives is a mother, father, sister or brother to another of them.

The Lynch syndrome accounts for 2 percent to 7 percent of colon cancers. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 160,000 new colon cancers occur yearly in the United States.

Readers can obtain the booklet covering colon cancer, its detection and treatment by writing: Dr. Donohue, No. 505, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.

DEAR DR. DONOHUE: I have been eating ice cream and cookies sweetened with Splenda for about four years, enjoying them very much and not experiencing any bad side effects. Then someone told me that Splenda is really bug poison and that it has made a lot of people sick, so I stopped using it. I have noticed no improvement, but I didn’t have anything wrong in the first place. I miss Splenda foods. What is your opinion? – N.B.

Splenda is not bug poison. It’s made from sugar. It’s a product that is 600 times sweeter than sugar. It is not absorbed, so it contributes no calories to those who eat it. It’s FDA-approved, and I trust the people at the FDA more than I trust your informant. There’s no reason for you not to use it.

Some people delight in passing on alarming information. Your “someone” has to be one of them.

Dr. Donohue regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but he will incorporate them in his column whenever possible. Readers may write him or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Readers may also order health newsletters from

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.