German Liver Foundation: Minimize risk factors for liver cirrhosis and liver cell cancer
Liver diseases can be attributed to various factors, with lifestyle often having a major impact. We should think about our liver more often and minimize the risks as possible, according to the current information from the German Liver Foundation.
"Malignant tumor diseases are the second leading cause of death in Germany," reports the liver foundation. Liver cell cancer is one of the fifth most common cancers worldwide. However, the risk of developing liver cell cancer can be significantly reduced by taking a few simple measures, according to the Foundation's announcement on the occasion of the 18th German Liver Day on November 20. It is organized by the German Liver Foundation, the German Liver Aid and the Gastro League.
Most liver diseases are discovered late
According to the German Liver Foundation, "seven out of ten liver cell cancer diseases are only discovered in advanced stages" and around 8,200 new cases are diagnosed in Germany every year. The number of deaths is almost as high. However, liver cell cancer is only curable if it is discovered and treated early. An early diagnosis is therefore crucial for the survival of those affected.
Liver cancer usually arises from cirrhosis of the liver
According to the experts, liver cell cancer usually develops on the basis of cirrhosis of the liver, which develops after a long-standing liver disease. In cirrhosis of the liver, healthy, active liver tissue is replaced by connective tissue, which cannot perform the diverse metabolic tasks of healthy liver tissue. The cancer then forms directly from the liver cells.
Causes of liver damage
"The causes of cirrhosis of the liver and the resulting liver cell cancer are diverse," reports the German Liver Foundation. In addition to alcohol abuse and chronic viral infections with hepatitis B viruses or hepatitis C viruses, the experts say that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL) is becoming an increasing risk factor. The German Liver Foundation recently reported that many children already suffer from fatty liver. Other possible causes of liver damage with subsequent liver cell disease include diabetes mellitus, hereditary metabolic diseases and mold in the diet
Blood test and ultrasound
It is also critical with cirrhosis of the liver that affected people often have no complaints at the initial stage. According to the experts, ultrasound examinations and the determination of the liver values in the blood are suitable for determining possible liver damage. "When determining the liver values, an increased GPT value can indicate inflammation or infection of the liver," explains Professor Dr. Peter R. Galle from the University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. That is why it is important "that according to the motto of this year's liver day, the liver and liver values are also taken into account during routine examinations."
Very few patients with cirrhosis of the liver have completely inconspicuous transaminases (GTP liver values, etc.), but normal liver values do not always rule out chronic liver disease, according to Professor Dr. Bile. If there is a specific suspicion of an infection with hepatitis viruses, a check is generally recommended.
Liver diseases often avoidable
"The various risk factors for cirrhosis prove that liver diseases can be avoided or cured in many cases," said the German Liver Foundation. For example, vaccination can protect against hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C can be cured in almost all patients, and healthy diet and exercise can help to reduce non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the early stages.
Treat the causative disease and eliminate risk factors
In the case of alcohol-related fatty liver (AFL), alcohol should be avoided and any existing addiction should be treated, reports the German Liver Foundation. In particular, if liver cirrhosis has already been diagnosed, liver-damaging factors should be eliminated. "Any treatment for cirrhosis of the liver is only successful if the causal disease is treated and all risk factors are eliminated," emphasizes Professor Galle. (fp)