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Steatorrhea (or steatorrhoea) is the presence of excess fat in feces. Stools may be bulky and difficult to flush, have a pale and oily appearance and can be especially foul-smelling. An oily anal leakage or some level of fecal incontinence may occur. There is increased fat excretion, which can be measured by determining the fecal fat level. The definition of how much fecal fat constitutes steatorrhea has not been standardized.


Impaired digestion or absorption can result in fatty stools. Possible causes include exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, with poor digestion from lack of lipases, loss of bile salts, which reduces micelle formation, and small intestinal disease producing malabsorption. Various other causes include certain medicines that block fat absorption, or indigestible or excess oil/fat in diet. The absence of bile secretion can cause the feces to turn gray or pale. Other features of fat malabsorption may also occur such as reduced bone density, difficulty with vision under low light levels, bleeding, bruising and slow blood clotting times.

Associated diseases


Orlistat (also known by trade names Xenical and Alli) is a diet pill that works by blocking the enzymes that digest fat. As a result, some fat cannot be absorbed from the gut and is excreted in the feces instead of being metabolically digested, sometimes causing oily anal leakage.{{cite news |title= Frito-Lay Study: Olestra Causes "Anal Oil Leakage" |url= http://www.cspinet.org/new/flaynal.html |quote=The Frito-Lay report states: "The anal oil leakage symptoms were observed in this study (3 to 9% incidence range above background), as well as other changes in elimination. ... Underwear spotting was statistically significant in one of two low level consumer groups at a 5% incidence above background." Despite those problems, the authors of the report concluded that olestra-containing snacks "should have a high potential for acceptance in the marketplace." |publisher= Center for Science in the Public Interest |date=February 13, 1997 |accessdate=2007-07-07 }} Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin) tablets can cause steatorrhea in some people.

Excess whole nuts in diet

There are anecdotal reports on the internet describing oily droplets in feces after eating large amounts of cashews or other whole nuts.http://www.ask.com/question/oily-orange-stoolhttp://www.steadyhealth.com/What_could_orange_Oil_like_droplets_in_stool_be__t205343.html They agree with studies showing that stool lipids are greatest when whole nuts are eaten, compared to their nut butters, oils or flour and that lipids from whole nuts are significantly less well absorbed.

Natural fats

Consuming jojoba oil has been documented to cause steatorrhea and anal leakage because it is indigestible. Consuming escolar and oilfish (sometimes mislabelled as butterfish) will often cause steatorrhea, also referred to as Gempylotoxism or Gempylid Fish Poisoning or keriorrhea. Bad Bug Book - Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook: Gempylotoxin, FDA The fish is commonly used in party catering due to its delicate flavor and because it is cheap and readily available.

Artificial fats

The fat substitute Olestra, used to reduce digestible fat in some foods, was reported to cause leakage in some consumers during the test-marketing phase. As a result, the product was reformulated before general release to a hydrogenated form that is not liquid at physiologic temperature. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warning indicated excessive consumption of Olestra could result in "loose stools"; however, this warning has not been required since 2003.


Treatments are mainly correction of the underlying cause, as well as digestive enzyme supplements. WrongDiagnosis >Treatments for Steatorrhea Retrieved on 20 Mars, 2009

See also


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This article based upon the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steatorrhea, the free encyclopaedia Wikipedia and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Further informations available on the list of authors and history: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Steatorrhea&action=history
presented by: Ingo Malchow, Mirower Bogen 22, 17235 Neustrelitz, Germany