14 things you should know about liver disease


by Baylor Scott & White Health

Jul 28, 2016

We wear red for cardiovascular health, buy pink to support breast cancer research, stop smoking to prevent lung cancer. Too much sugar intake and we will develop diabetes. We hear these messages every day. But is anyone talking about the disease that is killing more baby boomers than any other cause?

According to the Center for Disease Control, liver disease is now the no. 1 killer of all diseases. Yet, most people do not know what their liver does and believe that the only way to hurt your liver is with too much alcohol. Some physicians are uncomfortable with liver disease and it is rarely a popular topic of discussion.

Do you know what makes a healthy liver? Here’s what you need to know about the latest state of liver disease in the U.S.

  1. The liver is a football-sized organ which lives under your right rib cage and filters everything you take into your body.
  2. The liver makes blood, insulin, protein, antibodies, cholesterol and most of the proteins in your body.
  3. If your brain is the control center, heart is the pump and thyroid is the thermostat, then your liver is the main factory.
  4. Liver disease is not painful and has no symptoms until the damage is permanent.
  5. Liver disease has now surpassed cardiovascular disease as the no. 1 killer of baby boomers.
  6. Liver cancer is now the only cancer in the U.S. with increasing mortality. All other cancers mortality rates are decreasing.
  7. Chronic hepatitis C is now killing more Americans than any other infectious disease.
  8. 20,000 deaths is more than number of next 60 infectious disease combined (including tuberculosis and HIV).
  9. If you have hepatitis C (1 in 30 baby boomers do) your chance of a hospital admission for any cause is 3.7 times higher than your friends who do not have hepatitis C.
  10. Hepatitis C is easy to diagnosis with a simple blood test (but is not found on “routine testing” — you must ask for it).
  11. Hepatitis C causes cirrhosis in 35 percent of patients over 40 years…unless they drink alcohol — then it’s 85 percent!
  12. Fatty liver (liquid calories, fried food, fast food, sedentary lifestyle) can cause cirrhosis by itself.
  13. When fatty liver, alcohol and cirrhosis are combined, the results are deadly and there are no symptoms until it’s too late.
  14. The liver is an incredibly forgiving organ. It is the only organ that can grow itself back completely, if everything damaging it is removed soon enough. It’s the salamander tail of the human body!

There have been great strides within the last year in terms of cure rates for hepatitis C. New oral pills have changed the course of treatment and currently have a 95 percent cure rate. Previous cure rates from prior treatments were around 30 percent, so that’s triple the success now from times past. It is important for all baby boomers to get screened, and recognize that non-invasive screening options and treatments are available for all stages of the disease.

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