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The "Other" Hepatitis and Hepatitis C

The Editors at Hepatitis Central
December 16, 2004

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The following article is from the Conway Daily Sun. It is quite instructive for all hepatitis patients.

If high fat and alcohol can cause the sorts of liver problems mentioned in otherwise healthy people, then how much more important is it for chronic viral hepatitis people to keep these factors under control.

The bottom line is what I have been recommending for years. Regardless of what other approach you take to dealing with your condition, eat a whole foods balanced diet and do not drink alcohol.

Incidentally, milk thistle in general (and Maximum Milk Thistle in particular) has been shown to help maintain, protect and support a healthier liver, regardless of the condition. It has even been shown in laboratory testing to help regenerate healthy liver cells. Read more…

The Other Hepatitis

Dr. Brian Irwin

— Hepatitis literally means “inflammation of the liver.” There are many causes of hepatitis. Quite often when they hear the term, most people immediately think of hepatitis caused by a series of viruses. Over time, an increasing number of viruses that cause liver inflammation have been identified and have been named accordingly. Hepatitis A. Hepatitis B. Hepatitis C, which, until fairly recently, was named “Hepatitis non-A, non-B.” Delta hepatitis. The list goes on.

However as well known as these famous viruses are, they cause a proportionally small number of hepatitis cases in the Western Hemisphere. What is responsible for much more liver disease and subsequently death in the western world, and particularly in the United States, is fat.

By fat, I’m referring to accumulation of fat in the liver cells themselves. Triglycerides can, due to a number of causes, accumulate in the liver cells and ultimately cause inflammation, liver congestion and even liver failure. By far the most common cause of excess fat accumulation in liver cells is alcohol abuse. Excessive alcohol intake can damage the liver in a number of ways, but one of the known mechanisms is by excess fatty acid production that is a result of ethanol metabolism, and subsequent deposition of these acids in the liver.

Malnutrition alone can also cause this to occur, but unfortunately many heavy drinkers do not eat properly. Subsequently, these people suffer damage from their poor nutrition AND from their alcohol intake.

There are other causes for fat deposition in the liver. Other than alcohol, the most common cause in this country is a high-fat diet. The liver performs the function of “detoxifying” the bloodstream. The liver produces the enzymes and a material (called bilirubin) that is required to “dissolve” fat, help metabolize it and store or excrete it.

A tremendously high concentration of triglycerides can easily overwhelm the system, back up and regurgitate into the liver cells proper. The result is slow, but steady liver damage that can, eventually, become irreversible.

The recent documentary “Supersize ME” showed the effects of a fat- and sugar-rich diet on a previously healthy person. One of the major changes in this previously healthy subject’s condition was his liver function. The subject of the film experienced an increase in his “Liver Function Tests,” which are a series of tests that measure enzyme production by liver cells. These “LFT?s” are increased in almost all cases of inflammation; quite literally the subject of the film, by diet alone, gave himself hepatitis.

So what happens if you ignore hepatitis, fatty or alcoholic? Hepatitis can be with or without symptoms and, quite often, is a diagnosis that health-care providers “stumble” upon by finding incidentally elevated LFTs. Symptoms can range from painless jaundice (yellowing of the skin that occurs as bilirubin, one of the products of the liver, “spills over” into the bloodstream and deposits in the skin), to nausea, vomiting, atrophy of the testicles, hair loss or a whole host of other symptoms.

More concerning, perhaps, than the health ramifications of hepatitis are the health ramifications of chronic hepatitis….cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is the end-stage result of hepatitis. A liver with chronic inflammation will eventually scar, shrink up and eventually stop working. At this point severe fluid accumulation, severe mental status changes (confusion, seizures or coma), infection, bleeding tendencies and cancer can all present.

As ominous as all this sounds, there is good news. Not all cases of hepatitis progress to cirrhosis. Although not all kinds of hepatitis are reversible, most cases of fatty liver caused by increased fat intake or excess alcohol will revert to normal or near-normal liver function…IF the offending agent is removed! While health-care providers can’t promise all cases will totally revert to normal, we can promise that if a patient has fatty liver disease and hepatitis, if lifestyle changes aren’t instituted, that patient’s liver will progress to failure.

Of course, there is a genetic component to liver disease. Some people can eat a very high fat diet and never develop fatty hepatitis. Some people drink eight drinks every day and never have a problem. However, others can develop fatty liver disease from a relatively small amount of dietary fat and triglycerides or only a modest alcohol intake history.

This doesn’t mean everyone should be on a no-fat diet or that no one should ever have a glass of wine. What it does mean is that at this time there’s no way to tell who will luck out and who won’t. Some of us are more susceptible to liver disease than others, so to be safe, eat right, take everything, not just alcohol and fat, in moderation and if you ever have any questions ask your health-care provider for

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