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? Think about that for a minute. Imagine one empty seat at Thanksgiving dinner this year due to liver disease.
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.
National Liver Awareness Month - History
Hep C awareness campaign
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.
Scientists petitioned Congress
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.
Hepatitis B and liver cancer
Hepatitis B was cited as a leading cause of liver cancer and the first liver transplant was performed in 1963.
Scientists and physicians gathered
The American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases assembled scientists and medical professionals to brainstorm ways to prevent and cure liver disease.
First liver surgery
The very first hepatic or liver-related surgery took place.
How to Observe National Liver Awareness Month
1. 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.
2. 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. Donate that second car and get a tax write-off. Become an advocate on social media. You really can make a difference.
3. 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, isn't that what National Liver Awareness Month is all about?
5 Steps To A Healthier Liver
1. Realize that many are affected
Fifteen to 20 percent of Americans have some form of fatty liver disease, an ailment affecting those who are either overweight, diabetic, or affected by high cholesterol.
2. Fight liver disease with your favorite beverage
Drinking coffee is actually one of the best ways to take care of your liver.
3. Alcohol in moderation
If you drink more than six cans of beer, five glasses of wine, or six shots of liquor each day — you are a candidate for cirrhosis of the liver.
4. Feast on Fish
Choose meals with fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids like salmon or trout twice a week to lower your liver disease risk.
5. Learn the symptoms
If your liver is failing, your skin or eyeballs turn yellow as a sign of jaundice, or you can experience pain and swelling in your upper abdomen.
Why National Liver Awareness Month is Important
A. 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.
B. 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.
C. 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.