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Concurrent Hepatitis C and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Nicole Cutler L.Ac. May 16, 2012

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Two vitamins and the universal antioxidant may be able to interfere with the acceleration of cellular damage in those with both Hepatitis C and COPD.

Having one chronic illness is difficult enough; but having two chronic diseases is even more of a challenge. Unfortunately, chronic Hepatitis C and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) occur simultaneously more frequently than most realize. Although having these two conditions makes wellness harder to achieve, three easily available natural substances seem to benefit both conditions.

About Hepatitis C

A viral disease that causes inflammation of the liver, Hepatitis C chronically affects about 170 million people worldwide. Spread via blood-to-blood contact, the most common way to get Hepatitis C is by injecting drugs or sharing a needle with someone who has Hepatitis C. However, there are many other ways to contract this illness – including receiving a blood transfusion prior to 1992 and long-term kidney dialysis.

Because most people infected with Hepatitis C do not have symptoms, their infection is likely to go unnoticed until it has caused significant liver damage. Capable of causing progressive liver injury, Hepatitis C infection has the potential of reaching advanced liver disease, such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver failure.

The treatment for Hepatitis C has made great strides in recent years, eliminating the virus in 50 to 75 percent of those who can endure the intense drug cocktail. Regrettably, not everyone with Hepatitis C is a candidate for the pharmaceutical treatment and many people cannot endure the sometimes severe side effects. Those who are not able to get rid of the Hepatitis C virus must be vigilant with helpful lifestyle choices to prevent the progression of their liver disease.

About COPD

A leading cause of death and illness, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease refers to a group of lung diseases that cause breathing difficulties. Composed primarily of emphysema and chronic asthmatic bronchitis, COPD eventually damages the airways and interferes with the lung’s exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Smoking is the leading culprit of this type of lung disease; the more a person smokes, the more likely he or she will develop COPD. Besides tobacco smoke, long-term exposure to inhaled irritants like dust, chemical fumes and air pollution can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Because COPD’s damage to the lungs is permanent, treatment is aimed at controlling symptoms and preventing further damage. Medications are used to open airways, reduce lung inflammation and quell concurrent infections. Lifestyle choices (like quitting smoking and exercising) are essential for helping those with COPD breathe easily and prevent further lung damage.

COPD and Hepatitis C Together

Although there have been relatively few studies on their concurrence, clinicians frequently report patients having both chronic Hepatitis C and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. As published in a February 2010 edition of the journal Epidemiology and Infection, Brazilian researchers investigated the prevalence of Hepatitis C in patients with COPD. In their study, they found the following:

  • The prevalence of Hepatitis C infection in COPD patients was 7.5 percent.
  • The prevalence of Hepatitis C infection in blood donors was .41 percent.

In addition to demonstrating a significantly greater likelihood of Hepatitis C infection in those with COPD than the general blood donation population, this research also revealed that patients with COPD had more severe lung disease when they also were infected with Hepatitis C. There have been various theories explaining why these two illnesses frequently co-exist, such as:

  • Lung damage could be an extrahepatic manifestation of Hepatitis C. This means that besides the liver, the pulmonary system might be an additional location this virus infiltrates.
  • Those who partake in lifestyle choices known to cause COPD might be more likely to engage in activity that spreads the Hepatitis C virus.
  • Chronic Hepatitis C infection could function as a trigger for inflammation in the lungs, thus initiating or exacerbating the development of COPD.

Disease Progression Intervention

While further studies are needed to clarify the relationship between Hepatitis C and COPD, experts have identified three natural substances that could benefit the progression of both ailments: Vitamin C, Vitamin D and N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC).

  1. Vitamin C – Vitamin C helps neutralize free radicals, substances that are known to cause cellular damage via oxidation. Experts believe Vitamin C may suppress oxidative damage in the lungs, hindering the development of chronic lung diseases and reducing lung damage. The Hepatitis C virus is known to induce a particularly high level of oxidative stress in the liver. As such, Vitamin C is also used to reduce Hepatitis C’s oxidative damage to liver cells.
  2. Vitamin D – Studies have shown that both people with Hepatitis C and COPD are deficient in Vitamin D. A study presented at the 2011 American Thoracic Society International Conference found that patients with COPD who took Vitamin D had a significant improvement in lung capacity. A study presented at the 2010 conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases found that Vitamin D dramatically reduced blood levels of Hepatitis C in those with the virus.
  3. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – A revered amino acid, NAC is the precursor to the body’s most powerful endogenous antioxidant – glutathione. NAC was first developed as a dietary supplement to help break up mucus in the lungs in conditions such as bronchitis. However, current studies are showing that NAC can slow the progression of, and ease the symptoms of COPD. One of glutathione’s best-known roles is to defend cells against damage from wastes and toxins, making it an ideal choice for those wanting to protect their liver from toxicity. Due to its constant battle defending itself against Hepatitis C, a liver infected with this virus can benefit from increased resistance to toxins. In addition, research has consistently shown that lower levels of glutathione are associated with more severe liver disease.

Those who have both Hepatitis C and COPD are not alone. Physicians still don’t know exactly why these two illnesses frequently present together. However, they do recognize that their concurrence requires a greater effort to prevent disease advancement. By taking Vitamin C, Vitamin D and NAC, people with Hepatitis C and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease can be actively involved in preserving their lung and liver wellness.

Editor’s Note: This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Because each person’s needs are unique, always discuss any new health care regimen with your chosen doctor.

References:, COPD and Hepatitis C, Ian D. Pavord, DM, et al, Retrieved April 16, 2012, Chest, November 2003., Hepatitis C Virus Infection and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Erol S, et al, Retrieved April 16, 2012, Hepatitis Monthly, Winter 2009., HCV and the Body’s Most Important Antioxidant, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved April 22, 2012, Hepatitis Central, 2012., What Vitamins Do I Need for Hepatitis C and COPD?, Tanya Louise Coad, Retrieved April 16, 2012, Diamond Media, Inc., 2012., COPD, Retrieved April 21, 2012, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 2012., Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Retrieved April 22, 2012, A.D.A.M., Inc., 2012., Hepatitis C, Retrieved April 21, 2012, A.D.A.M., Inc, 2012., Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection in patients with COPD, Silva, DR, et al, Retrieved April 16, 2012, Epidemiology and Infection, February 2010., N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) Helps Alleviate COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), Retrieved April 20, 2012, Smart Publications, Inc., 2012.



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Comments provides information regarding hepatitis and liver disease. Comments are available to the community in order to discuss these topics and obtain answers to questions through community members. The Editors at will not be responding to questions or comments posed in article comments.

  • Elizabeth Faraone

    I am 50 years old and I have a history of spontaneous pneumothorax and I have Hepatitis C.  I have always lived a lifestyle free of alcohol and drugs and I haven’t had an abundance of sexual partners and the sexual partners I’ve had do not have Hepatitis C.  I also was aware at a young age of the importance of eating whole foods and I cooked healthy meals for myself and my family from my teenage years.  I think disease is very difficult to understand and I question whether Hepatitis C is transmitted as it is believed to be transmitted or if it is easier to be infected with it.  Perhaps whether one contracts Hepatitis C or not has more to do with a lowered immune system.   Just questioning.

    • Cronken

      Some of the ways not mentioned of how a person can get Hep. C is through a bad batch of hepatitis A vaccine that is how I was infected.

      • J

         I too had no life style issues which supposedly spread the virus I.E. needles, tattoos, blood trans., etc. I was in the military and they gave us shots; lots of shots. When was this “Bad batch” of HEP A vaccine discovered? I did have that vaccine about 25 years ago.

  • Cannonfodder

    I’ve had hep C for forty years,yes that’s right and if anyone thing I could say,there’s this and that and the other I have my problems with it,but the single greatest thing that has helped me I know was giving up every drop of alcohol since 92,91 when they developed the test I gave it up for good there really is no other option if you have HepC

    • Pacamaro97

      ii to have had it for 40 years. tryed the cure 5 years ago and it didnt work.just finished the new triple drug early. my doctor had to take me off to harsh on my system.i havent had a drink for 30 years and i eat healthy so for know i just have to live with it.

      • Cdms

        Has anyone tried Chanca Pedra from the Rain Forest?  Over in those countries it is used to treat HepC.  Leslie Taylor of the rain tree web site use to live in TX where we live and a friend of my brother in-law got some from her and drank as a tea for two weeks.  Went back had second test ran and tested negative.  I always say its worth a try for not everything works for everbody.  There are alot of good alternative support out there that may not “cure” but it can definetly support the body health and sometimes even works very synergistcally with traditional medicine treatments.  Some alternative are so supportive to trad. meds that is lessens the side effects and make the treatments tolerable.  But it is always best to discuss with your Dr. first.  Cancer Treatment Center of Am.  uses a combination of both with great success.  God Bless to all.

        • Chris

          Never heard of Chanca Pedra. I have Genotype 1A which is the most resistant.  I tried all forms of natural remedies including a 3 month cleansing and detox. So far nothing works.  In Jan I went on the 3 cocktail treatment and I was taken off after the 4th week.  My viral load was 200 over the 1000 expected value for continuing the therapy.  What keeps me going is my strong faith in God, prayer, and keeping busy and positive with laughter. Hang in there I heard of new studies that will be ready for human trials within a year to 2 years from now.  God bless and remember that He will never abandon you no matter how bad it gets. Its because of the trials that makes us stronger and survivors.

      • Cambob

        I too have had hcv for over 40 yrs and only found out about it a few yrs ago,had a biopisy and had no scaring,never had the treatment,by the way my name is  bob camarco is pacamarco your name?

  • bobbyh

    Vitanin C also increases the absorption of Iron. Unless i am mistaken, elevated serum iron, ferritan etc, combined with the liver damage associated with HCV is not a desirable outcome.  Please advise.

    • It is more than complicated with a lot of food combinations. I do believe you are right. you just need to know what your body can and can not have. certain nutrients are okay when absorbed differently. check out some hep C groups on face book, they can be very helpful

  • bigjim1958

    I also got hep c at 15 thats 40yrs ago being a drug coun. I have seen a lot of hep c NO ONE really knows all the side effects of this disease it took until 48-49yrs old to get sick tried to do treatment but could not tolerate it my doctors seem to think that I dont know my own body for me the ammonia gas causes mental illness an it feels like my brain is shrinking a fishing net wraped around my brain that is shrinking around it i stay awake for 2-3 days then cant stay awake for a few days 1 day out of 4 Ifeel ok never have any energy an the pain in my liver sends lighting bolts shooting from my liver into my brain an also have drastic increase in seizures stuttering an altimers symptoms cant spell or concentrate iriatable bowel syndrome muscle wasting but the pain is insane at times I try an live on juice an soy milk milk thistle.Also marijuana helps a great deal but I think I am getting COPD so that dosent help.Ive been on morphine an zanax for years now an try not to bend over or do exercise that moves my liver toe touches twisting an so on. Nobody has the same symptoms i have worked with so many people over the years that it is apparent that you never know how when or if this disease is going to effect you an we dont really get the truth about side effects I dont know if it is intentional or they just dont know. After all your liver is our filter drinking lots of water seems to help. No one is in your body but you an as it progresses I notice more side effects. Eating a plant based diet seems to help because my body dosent seem to digest food like it used to plus all my teeth have fell out. My viral load has been to 3 million then back down to 150,000 an back up again. Alcohol is the main offender period. Thinking I would never get sick was a major mistake geno type 1-a is far more likely to become ill as time goes on an the longer you have it the more likely you are to become sick. Good luck to those of you who dont become ill only about 30% of people get sick an with  1-a you only hve 15-20% chance of getting better so the odds are still far more likely youll never get sick but if you do watch out this is no way to live especially when your body stops being able to regulate your body temp. that was a real shock the last 2 years     

  • magnolia813

    I am 57,F and was diagnosed w/ HepC in 1999 thanks to a blood transfusion in either 1986 or 1989. Just recently was diagnosed with COPD! I am so sick of statements as above “those that engage in lifestyle choices that cause COPD are likely to engage in those that cause HepC”!! Is it any wonder that no one wants to get tested!! You would think after all these years, the stigma associated with HepC would diminish, but no, like AIDS there are many innocent victims! Until this stigma subsides this disease will continue to spread, undetected due to ignorance and lack of support! I was excited to read this article until I saw that..very sad!!

  • Cheyenne Clamper

    For everyone dealing with cops and hep-c my heart goes out for you. I lost my beautiful free-spirited mom to this horrible bond of illnesses. I had to see her in pain a majority of the time even though she always put up that tough persona. I miss her a lot and reading these articles helps me understand just a little more of what my mom had to endure through her life. In Loving Memory; Paulette Branson ( 1955 – 2007 )
    Cheyenne Camper

  • Ventory


    My name is Ventory Ariel I was diagnosed of Emphysema 9 months ago which affected my breathing badly, my doctor advice me for Lung Volume reduction surgery (LVRS) because my both upper lobes of the lungs were involved, i was making preparation for this when a friend of mine told me about a herbal doctor from South Africa, doctor Ejiro who prepares herbal medicine to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, i contacted Dr Ejiro via his email and he sent me Emphysema herbal medicine via courier service, when i received this herbal medicine i applied it as instructed and was totally cured of Emphysema within 12-14 days of usage, i never had to go for the surgery again as i was totally free from emphysema, all thanks to Dr Ejiro, contact Dr Ejiro via his email [email protected] or call him on +27603202023

  • johanabrandi

    I really find this to be one of the absolute best stem cell blogs on the internet. It’s helped me educate myself on stem cells and the current state of the industry. When my father was diagnosed with COPD we really ran out of options. I came across this site and researched as much as possible and then searched for stem cell treatment centers that treat COPD. I immediately ruled out non-domestic treatment centers and contacted [email protected] that uses adult adipose stem cells to treat COPD. I took the plunge with my father and thank God every day that I did. After the treatment, he was completely taken off of oxygen and has no need to get back on. He’s doing great, no more oxygen tanks whatsoever. He is no longer winded from going room to room. He has tons of energy due to being able to sleep at night. He’s a new man. Again, thank you for helping to educate me on stem cells, otherwise I would not have known to seek out treatment for my father. ( [email protected] )

  • Felicia


    I was diagnosed of Emphysema in 2014, i was told the toxins in cigarette smoke caused the damage and it has no permanent cure but i was given medication to ease it, it affected me badly, my doctor suggested LVRS as i was constantly out of breath, this continued till i saw a post in a health forum about a herbal doctor from South Africa who prepare herbal medicines to cure all kind of diseases including Emphysema, i contacted this herbal doctor Dr Ejiro via his email and he sent me Emphysema herbal medicine via courier service, when i received this herbal medicine i applied it as instructed and was totally cured of Emphysema within 14 days of usage, i am totally free from emphysema now, contact Dr Ejiro via his email [email protected] or call him on +27616158179

  • Janet


    I was diagnosed of Emphysema in February 2015, my docttor told me it has no permanent cure, i was given medication to ease the situation, this affected me so badly as i constantly go short of breath, this continued till a friend of mine Anna Madsen told me about Dr Ejiro from South Africa who cured her mother from emphysema, I contacted this herbal doctor and he sent me the herbal medicine through courier service, when i received it i applied it for 3 weeks as prescribed and was totally cured of emphysema within 18-20 days of usage. Contact this herbal doctor via his email [email protected] or call +27617403481

  • Vivien Donald

    I smoked for 20 years, October 2014 i was diagnosed of Emphysema my doctor told me there is no permanent cure for the disease, i was given bronchodilators to help me relax my bronchiolar muscles, I managed on with the disease till a friend told me about a herbal doctor from South Africa who sell herbal medicines to cure all kind of diseases including emphysema, I contacted this herbal doctor via his email and made purchase of the emphysema herbal medicine, i received the herbal medicine through DHL within 5 days, when i received the herbal medicine i applied it as prescribed and was totally cured of emphysema within 18-20 days of usage, the symptoms reduced till i even forgot i had emphysema, i went back to my doctor for diagnosis with spirometry and he confirmed i was free from the disease, contact this herbal doctor via his email [email protected]