No Free Passes: Save Your Liver Now!


SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Without a doubt, everyone’s routine has changed during the pandemic crisis. For some of us that’s meant tossing healthy habits aside for junk food and alcohol. But experts warn about giving yourself too much of a free pass during these times. Our indulgences can have long-term effects on our health, namely our liver. If we’re not aware, the warning signs can be too subtle to detect until it’s too late.

Surindra Vasudeva is still trying to put the pieces together. This fall, he was diagnosed with liver cancer and his best option now is a transplant.

“The first time you hear the word cancer, you are devastated. I had absolutely had no symptoms,” shared Vasudeva.

“Most patients feel nothing when they have chronic liver disease. And it’s really only detected by blood tests,” added Elizabeth Hwang, MD, Associate Chief of Gastroenterology & Director of Hepatology at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center.

However, Vasudeva was unaware that his other health issues were putting a burden on his liver which led to cirrhosis.

“The primary thing was auto-immune hepatitis, but he also has diabetes and high blood pressure,” continued Dr. Hwang.

That’s why Dr. Hwang said it’s important to be aware how our lifestyle can affect the long-term health of our liver.

“During this pandemic, a lot of patients are being more free with their alcohol use or allowing themselves to have a worse diet than usual. And all of this can damage the liver in the long-term,” explained Dr. Hwang.

It’s especially important to be mindful if you have a pre-existing condition.

Dr. Hwang said, “Obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol are affected by your diet and can lead to fatty liver disease and then cirrhosis.”

Make sure your doctor checks your liver health during your annual exams. It’s important to know if there’s a red flag.

“Therefore, we can screen them very aggressively. We have lots of treatment options,” stated Dr. Hwang.

“I’m very optimistic,” smiled Vasudeva.

It’s also important to note that the liver can heal from early-stage damage. That is why it’s so important to identify problems before it becomes disease and irreversible. Some of the subtle early warning signs are tiredness, changes in appetite, bruising, and increased blood pressure. Liver cancer is the fifth most common cancer worldwide.

Contributors to this news report include: Jennifer Winter, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor; and Rusty Reed, Videographer.

REPORT #2838

BACKGROUND: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a major health problem in Western industrialized countries, such as the United States) and is affecting 30% of the adult population and 60%-80% of patients with diabetes mellitus and/or obesity. The number of NAFLD diagnoses in children and adolescents is increasing and has been reported to be approximately 10%. Although genetic factors have been associated with the onset of pediatric NAFLD, the most important risk factor in children, as in adults, is overweight, with the frequency of NAFLD being higher in obese than in non-obese children.


TREATMENT: Finding the cause and extent of liver damage is important in guiding treatment. Doctors are most likely to start with a health history and thorough physical examination. A doctor after reviewing a patient’s health history may recommend a liver function tests (group of blood tests) to diagnose liver disease, or other blood tests to be done to look for specific liver problems or genetic conditions. Patients who are experiencing liver damage may also want to consider having image tests such as an ultrasound, CT scan and MRI done to show liver damage, have a tissue sample (biopsy) taken from their liver which may help diagnose the specific liver disease and look for signs of liver damage, and/ or have a liver biopsy (most often done using a long needle inserted through the skin to extract a tissue sample) that is sent to a lab for testing. Treatments for liver disease depends on a person’s diagnosis. Lifestyle modifications, such as stopping alcohol use or losing weight, typically as part of a medical program that includes careful monitoring of liver function can be done as a treatment for liver damage. Other liver problems may be treated with medications or require surgery. Those who are suffering from a liver disease that causes or has led to liver failure may ultimately require a liver transplant.


NEW STUDIES FOR NAFLD: The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK) and other branches of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conduct and fund research into many diseases, such as liver disease. Researchers at NIDDK and other branches of the NIH are studying many aspects of NAFLD such as building databases of adults and children who have NAFLD and how weight-loss surgery affects NAFLD in adolescents. Currently there are no medicines approved to treat NAFLD, but a few are being studied with promising results. Researchers at NIH are currently building databases of adults and children who have NAFLD, comparing how people with and without NAFLD process and metabolize food, and studying how weight-loss surgery affects NAFLD in adolescents.


* For More Information, Contact:

Patty Porter, Public Relations

(408) 885-4006

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