More than 30 million people in the U.S. have liver disease. Plus, cases of hepatitis C, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and liver cancer are on the rise. We know overindulging in sweets and alcohol is bad for our waistlines, but what about our livers?
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, recently sat down with Dr. Nikolaos Pyrsopolous, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology and medical director of liver transplantation at Rutgers University to clear up some myths, and give some healthy liver tips.
There are many misconceptions about liver disease, Pyrsopolous said. These include:
Liver disease only affects alcoholics and drug users
Many liver disease patients are children or people affected with fatty liver disease, caused by diets high in calories and sugar.
Hepatitis C is only a risk for people who have shared needles
Many older adults and baby boomers also may have been exposed to Hepatitis C through routine medical visits before the time when nurses needed to enforce strict hospital guidelines to protect your liver.
If your liver fails, you need a full liver transplant
Patients often only need partial liver transplants because the liver is able to regenerate itself.
When it comes to my liver, I only need to worry about liver disease
Rates of liver cancer are on the rise, even while some other cancer rates have fallen, mainly due to the increasing impact of obesity and viral hepatitis.
To keep your liver healthy, the most important thing you can do is be proactive. Pyrsopolous recommends the following steps:
-Get tested for Hepatitis C
-Adopt healthy diet and exercise habits
-Know your medications and supplements –many don’t mix!
For more information, visit www.LiverFoundation.org