How to Liver Disease | Cirrhosis Treatment

liver disease cirrhosis

How to Liver Disease and Cirrhosis Treatment

In the United States, liver disease is now the fifth leading cause of death among men in the 25-to-64 age group, and it is the fourth leading cause of death in women between the ages of 45 and 64. Yet there is still a little relationship between the magnitude of the liver health problem and the response of the public and the medical health community in both the United States and Britain. Cancer and heart disease get hundreds of millions of dollars and pounds a year in research, and large numbers of people are beginning to understand what they can do to protect themselves against those serious threats to health, but the liver stays largely in limbo. That's a shame because our dependence on it as a protector against chemical insults grows rapidly as we advance further into the technological age and expose ourselves to more chemical contaminants.

Many chemicals are metabolized into harmless compounds by just one exposure to the liver's rich array of enzymes and enzyme systems. If there is too much of a chemical in the blood for the liver to filter out in one pass, it will get another crack at it later, when circulating blood brings it around again. Eventually, all will be removed.

Alcohol is the drug that the liver is called upon most frequently to metabolize and flush from the human system. Almost the entire job of dealing with alcohol falls on the liver because very little of that chemical can be disposed of unchanged, through the lungs or the kidneys.

There are limits to the liver's ability to deal with alcohol, though. First, the purification process happens slowly. Your liver can filter out and metabolize the alcohol in one drink in two hours. If you sipped a cocktail, a bottle of beer or a glass of wine for two hours, you probably wouldn't feel any effect. Most people drink faster than that, of course. The excess alcohol overflows the liver's metabolic capacity, goes into circulating blood, reaches the brain and causes intoxication.

What does the liver do with alcohol? It converts it into a chemical called acetaldehyde. That's where the trouble starts. Acetaldehyde can itself cause problems. It can interfere with the activation of vitamins by liver cells. The heart and other muscles of the body aren't helped by acetaldehyde either. The conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde in the liver sets up a vicious circle of chemical side-effects, which, if continued over a period of time, can damage that organ's ability to keep functioning.

For women, who are apparently more vulnerable to alcohol damage to the liver than men, the danger level is extremely low. A French study has shown that women who take one normal-sized alcoholic drink a day are statistically more likely to get cirrhosis (hardening and shrinking of the liver due to excessive destruction of liver cells) than are non-drinkers. For men, the point of hazard was shown to be two drinks a day.

While that doesn't mean that one or two drinks a day automatically will cause harm to the liver, the possibility of that happening is there. A significant number of people who are predisposed to liver trouble because of heredity, other illness or exposure to chemical hazards are being hurt by very small amounts of alcohol.

While your liver is busy processing alcohol out of your system, it can't be handling other environmental toxins or drugs as well as it would normally. That is why some people die when they take a lot of tranquilizers while drinking large amounts of alcohol. The liver can't handle it all, and the drugs and alcohol have an adverse and sometimes fatal impact on the body.

Help for the fatty liver

Good nutrition and exercise help the liver. Consider the condition known as 'fatty liver', which is the first stage of harm to that organ caused by alcohol, and which is reversible if you stop drinking. Your liver can also become fatty from eating too much fat. People who eat little fat probably have liver health in reserve, so to speak, than others.

Steven C. Goheen, Edward C. Larkin and Ananda Rao, a team of blood specialists in Martinex, California, were looking for a dietary treatment for alcoholics with fatty livers when they found a blend of nutrients that might help anyone who wants to make existing fat leave the liver and prevent new fat from accumulating.

Working with rats, the researchers found that alcohol would promote a fatty liver unless a rat was also fed dihydroxyacetone (a carbohydrate), pyruvate (a key factor in carbohydrate metabolism) and riboflavin (also called vitamin B2). With those supplements, the levels of triglycerides and other fats all declined in the rats' livers (Lipids, January 1981).

The unanswered question is whether the supplements can slim down the fatty livers of non-alcoholics. 'My own guess is that they would work for any kind of fatty liver,' Dr. Goheen said, adding that so far there have been no tests on humans.

Exercise is another natural way to prevent a fatty liver. In a one-year study at the University of Mississippi, ten dogs were fed a diet rich in cholesterol and lard. All were confined to small cages, but every day, five of the dogs were given an hour of exercise on a treadmill.

By the end of the study, three of the non-exercised dogs had shown signs of liver disease and died. The two remaining non-exercised dogs had fatty, cirrhotic livers. The exercised dogs, however, had essentially normal lives - despite the high-fat diet. 'Effective exercise, ' the researchers noted, 'probably minimizes fat storage in the liver... by utilizing it as energy' (Journal of the American Medical Association).

One of the most powerful detoxification systems in the liver centers around a substance called cytochrome P-450. Scientists who have studied cytochrome P-450 feel that it is involved in alcoholism, cancer and the breakdown of environmental chemicals. One group of researchers at the University of Michigan has looked at the effect of nutrition on the amount of this important detoxifying system in the liver.

V. G. Zannoni of the University of Michigan Medical School and L. E. Ricans of the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center have reported that supplements of vitamin C increased the amount of P-450 produced by guinea pigs. The test animals given vitamin C also showed increased ability to metabolize drugs and eliminate them from their system. That is a very encouraging report and, if confirmed in similar studies with people, could point the way to yet another use for vitamin C in the prevention of disease.

Alcohol and zinc deficiency

Zinc has also been reported to have value in protecting the liver. In one scientific study of cells, researchers investigating cirrhosis looked at the fact that patients with cirrhosis are usually alcohol addicted and zinc deficient. Their question was: which of the two factors harmed the liver most?

The researchers studied four groups of rats. Two groups were fed a normal diet, one supplemented with alcohol and the other without alcohol. Two other groups were fed a zinc-deficient diet, again, one with alcohol and the other without. The results were surprising because cirrhosis is often blamed entirely on alcohol.

The two groups of rats with adequate zinc levels - even the group given alcohol - were protected from liver damage caused by peroxides, a category of highly reactive and destructive molecules. 'Zinc deficiency may modify [liver] metabolism in a way that could cause potentially harmful effects to [cell] membranes, ' the researchers said.

The researchers speculated that a zinc-containing enzyme called superoxide dismutase might be the protective factor since it directly inhibits peroxidation. (We want to caution that this is not an endorsement of the superoxide dismutase [SOD] sold in shops which may actually harm the body.) They also suggest that sufficient zinc might protect liver cells from toxins other than alcohol, such as the industrial chemical carbon tetrachloride, a solvent used in dry cleaning, and hydrazine, an ingredient in the making of jet fuel (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 1980).

Vitamin E, selenium, and thiamin

Research concerning the toxic effects of paracetamol has also yielded potential ways to protect the liver. Paracetamol is known to cause liver and kidney damage when even mildly excessive amounts are consumed, but the damage is minimized by maintaining adequate levels of selenium and vitamin E.

Francis J. Peterson of the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Minneapolis said that the liver converts paracetamol into a potentially damaging 'reactive metabolite'. But vitamin E and selenium seem to tie up the metabolites and cancel their toxic effects.

Studies have also shown that thiamin (vitamin B1) deficiency may complicate liver disease. Measuring the thiamin levels of patients with the chronic liver disease, doctors found that 58 percent of them had a deficiency of thiamin. When they supplemented the patients' diet with 200 mg of thiamine a day for one week, the disease improved.

'High doses of thiamine,' the doctors wrote, 'should be included in the routine nutritional management of patients with severe chronic liver disease' (Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology).
How to Liver Disease | Cirrhosis Treatment How to Liver Disease | Cirrhosis Treatment Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 6/02/2016 Rating: 5

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