Your Liver Is The Key To Life-Long Health
Education and Advocacy The liver is an organ that is often misunderstood or worse, taken for granted, until something goes wrong.
The common perception is that the liver’s primary function is to process alcohol; therefore, the assumption is that if you have problems with your liver, it must be related to alcohol. Unfortunately, this one-dimensional view of the liver robs this amazing organ of the credit it deserves for keeping us alive.
"While the liver does have super-human qualities, it can still be vulnerable."
If you’ve ever fought off a virus, taken medicine to treat pain or illness, had your blood clot when you cut yourself or had enough energy to complete all your tasks in a day, you can thank your liver. This efficient, multi-tasking organ performs over 500 functions to nurture, protect and energize your body on a daily basis.
While the liver does have super-human qualities, it can still be vulnerable. Unhealthy food, viruses, pollution, alcohol and medication combinations are just some of the things that can damage this vital organ. In addition, there are over 100 different liver diseases—some linked to what we put in our bodies, others due to genetics, our immune system or factors we have yet to understand. Liver disease is a health problem that no one ever thinks will happen to them but the truth is, anyone can be at risk.
According to the Canadian Liver Foundation’s report—Liver Disease in Canada: A Crisis in the Making—viral hepatitis (hepatitis B and C), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (linked to obesity), liver cancer, alcoholic liver disease and cirrhosis account for 95 percent of liver-related deaths in this country. Unfortunately, a significant portion of the estimated 3.4 million Canadians living with these diseases are not aware of it because they have no obvious symptoms and may have never been tested.
"Liver enzyme tests can serve as an early warning system indicating potential liver problems and blood tests can also identify if you have hepatitis B or C."
If you see your doctor regularly, you will no doubt have had your cholesterol levels checked and your blood pressure monitored, but what about your liver? Liver enzyme tests can serve as an early warning system indicating potential liver problems and blood tests can also identify if you have hepatitis B or C. Asking for these tests is one way you can take charge of your liver health and ensure that if you have liver disease, it is discovered as early as possible.
Thanks to research, we now have the knowledge and tools to prevent, treat, or even cure many of the major forms of liver disease—but complacency can be deadly. Liver health is worth fighting for—whether that means adopting a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol or drinking only in moderation, getting immunized against hepatitis A and B, getting tested for hepatitis, or taking steps to get your liver disease treated. Your future health may depend on it. Liver health is a precious resource that we cannot afford to squander.