Your own weight and drinking habits are your liver’s enemies, worse than hepatitis. A city hospital compiled data over the last few years, and it showed that alcoholism and obesity are causing liver failures in over 50% patients.
Earlier, hepatitis was blamed for most liver diseases. “The incidence of liver diseases due to hepatitis has not decreased but there has been an increase in the disease due to obesity and alcohol,” said Dr S K Sarin, director of Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences (ILBS).
Over the last four years, ILBS collected data from 3,700 patients (2,622 men and 548 women), of which 51% cases were non-hepatitis, 38% patients had alcoholic liver disease (ALD), and 13% patients had fatty liver disease which is mostly seen in obese patients. Of the remaining 49%, hepatitis (B and C) was found in 25%, while an additional 10% suffered from both ALD and hepatitis. In the remaining 14%, origin of the disease was unknown.
Dr Sarin added that obesity and excessive drinking cause inflammation of liver: “There are no medicines to reduce the progression of disease in ALD. In the case of obese patients, medicines are less effective.” The risk of liver failure is up to four times greater in an obese or an alcoholic person if they catch hepatitis infection.. “Getting vaccination for hepatitis B should be mandatory for high-risk patients such as obese, diabetics and alcoholics,” he added.
The liver, weighing one-and-half kilograms, is one of the largest organs in the body. It processes the food we eat after it has been absorbed by the intestines. It also neutralizes the toxins and produces proteins that protect us from and bleeding. Fatty liver disease (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), hepatitis B and C and cirrhosis are some of the common health problems that affect its functioning, often leading to its failure. Around 60,000 people die in India due to liver failure every year.
“New medicines that have been developed to treat liver diseases are unaffordable for most patients in India,” said a doctor. Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, who visited ILBS recently, stressed on creating awareness about liver diseases. “Preventive measures should not be neglected. In India millions of people remain poor so we must recruit people in those areas.
Besides that one should cut down their intake of alcohol and limit smoking. Smoking is one the greatest killers of human beings globally. Your illness is your own creation, so you are responsible for your problems,” the Dalai had said.
This article appeared in The Times of India on December 8 2013