National Liver Awareness Month in October encourages you to act early and be safe in preventing liver disease. Did you know that almost 33,000 Americans die annually from liver cancer every year, according to the American Liver Foundation? Risk factors leading to cirrhosis include chronic viral hepatitis, obesity, alcoholism, as well as poor lifestyle choices. But there is hope. With early detection, you can double your survival rate. National Liver Awareness Month has events planned all over the country to keep you informed about that heavy lifter in your body, the liver.
History of National Liver Awareness Month
Until the seventeenth century, the liver was believed to be the origin of blood, with Roman philosophers describing the organ as warm and moist, and “the source of the veins and the principal instrument of blood production.” Several ancient scholars also assumed that a fire perpetually burned in the liver, leading them to consider it the spot where the human soul resided.
Liver ailments have been known to mankind for centuries. Autopsies performed on Egyptian mummies showed liver damage caused by a widespread parasitic infection called Bilharziasis. The Greek physician Hippocrates described liver abscess in 400 B.C. and the mythological story “Prometheus” also implies that the Greeks may have been aware of the liver’s ability to regenerate from severe damage.
The first liver transplant was performed by Francis Moore on a dog in 1958. The first human liver transplant was in 1963 and was performed by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, setting the precedent for liver treatments still performed to this day.
Recently we have begun to start observing National Liver Awareness Month. The annual occurrence serves to highlight the importance of the organ and to celebrate and medical discoveries made by scientists.
National Liver Awareness Month timeline
Natalie Cole and Greg Allman joined forces to launch the "Tune in to Hep C" nationwide campaign on preventing this chronic viral infection of the liver.
Leading researchers and members of the scientific community drafted a Research Agenda to present to members of Congress spelling out the need to find a cure for liver diseases.
Dr. Thomas Starzl performed the first liver transplant ever recorded.
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases assembled scientists and medical professionals to brainstorm ways to prevent and cure liver disease.
The very first hepatic or liver-related surgery took place.
National Liver Awareness Month FAQs
What can I do for Liver Awareness Month?
Make sure to schedule wellness checkups with your doctor, as well as choosing to live with healthy habits.
What can I do to sign up as a liver donor?
If you’re interested in being a liver donor speak to your local hospital.
What month is liver disease awareness?
Liver disease awareness month is in October.
How to Observe National Liver Awareness Month
Have a Lunch and Learn at work or school
Who doesn't love a Lunch and Learn? This kind of event is tailor-made for National Liver Awareness Month. Invite a speaker — or better yet — a panel of health educators to share a sandwich and some knowledge about liver disease prevention. Include a survivor with a compelling story.
Walk Your Talk and Get Involved
This month, make a real personal connection by volunteering during special events — or helping in the office for organizations like the American Liver Foundation or the American Cancer Society. Become an advocate on social media. You really can make a difference.
Bring Liver Disease Out of the Closet
If you've been silently struggling with liver disease, use this month to go public. Share your story loudly and proudly because you are not alone. Someone else may be in denial about their illness or simply following negative behaviors. Writing a post or even a blog can raise everybody's awareness. And after all, that is what National Liver Awareness Month is all about.
5 Facts About Your Liver
It’s your heaviest internal organ
An average adult liver can weigh up to three pounds, the size of a Chihuahua!
It can grow back
The liver is the only organ that can completely regenerate, needing as little as a quarter of its original tissue to do so.
It holds a lot of blood.
At any given time, your liver can have 10 percent of your body’s blood in it.
Does a ton of jobs.
From filtering blood to producing bile, our liver performs around 200 important functions for the body.
It takes an hour to metabolize a cocktail.
The liver can process one ounce of liquor in one hour, the average amount in a mixed drink.
Why National Liver Awareness Month is Important
It's all about loving our liver
The liver is the heavyweight champion of our bodies. It's our second largest organ — and sits right under your rib cage on your right side. Even though your liver weighs only about three pounds, it is the hardest- working organ. The liver functions to cleanse toxins, produce energy and help your digestion. Bottom line, you gotta love your liver because it works so hard keeping all the bad stuff out of your blood.
Choose wellness over disease
Watch your weight, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly to avoid diseases like Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). Look out for toxins lurking in your environment that can damage your precious liver cells. When you use cleaning products or insecticides, make sure the room has good ventilation. Bottom line, you only have one liver and you can't live without it.
Drugs and alcohol are not the only villains of liver disease
Anyone can have liver disease including young children. Unfortunately, many people assume that if someone develops this illness, they may be abusing drugs or alcohol. Not true. The American Liver Foundation reports that obesity and hepatitis B and C infections are also culprits in liver disease. Still, if you drink, do it in moderation because alcohol can destroy and scar your liver. Lastly, never use illicit drugs because the high isn't worth sacrificing your liver.
National Liver Awareness Month dates