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Liver cirrhosis nutritional therapyThe causes of liver disease

The big three causes of liver disease: viruses, alcohol, and obesity (lifestyle-related diseases)

Viruses

In Japan, about 1.5 million people are infected with the hepatitis B virus and about 2 million with the hepatitis C virus; both of these infect the liver through the blood. The hepatitis B virus can also infect babies by being transferred from their mothers during childbirth, but nowadays the infection can be prevented through vaccination. Since all donated blood is now screened there is only a very minor risk of infection with the hepatitis C virus through blood transfusions.

Alcohol

When you consume alcoholic drinks, the alcohol contained in them is detoxified by the liver. This means that consuming large quantities of alcohol puts a big burden upon the liver. Alcohol dissolves in water, dissolves fat, and acts to denature proteins, causing direct harm to the body's cells. Furthermore, when metabolized inside the liver, it turns into acetaldehyde, which is even more toxic than the original alcohol, and can cause liver fibrosis.

Obesity

Recently, the obesity rate has been increasing due to overeating and a lack of exercise; because of this fatty liver disease is now seen in about 80% of obese individuals. One type of fatty liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) which progresses to liver cirrhosis accompanied by inflammation and fibrosis, is also known to develop in people who are obese and have diabetes. In these situations, changes in lifestyle habits are essential to help improve the function of the liver.

From chronic hepatitis to liver cirrhosis and liver cancer

If the liver is infected with a hepatitis-causing virus and chronic hepatitis develops, it will progress into liver cirrhosis over a period of 20 years. With alcoholic liver failure too, if you continue drinking alcohol it will eventually cause inflammation and become liver fibrosis or liver cirrhosis. Furthermore, if liver cirrhosis is left untreated it will develop into liver cancer regardless of the cause. Therefore it is important to treat the disease or start nutrition therapy at an early stage.

Consult your doctor, pharmacist, or nutritionist about your daily intake of protein and calories.