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October is Liver Awareness Month: The American Liver Foundation Urges All Americans to Pay Attention to Their Liver Every Day of the Year

The Foundation Offers Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Liver

NEW YORK, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Urging every American to maintain a healthy liver, the American Liver Foundation (ALF) today observed Liver Awareness Month by releasing 12 tips to combat liver disease, which affects 30 million Americans.

Liver disease, a serious and largely unrecognized problem in the United States, is the 7th leading cause of death among adults between the ages of 25 and 64, taking approximately 27,000 American lives every year, according to ALF. Yet most Americans do not realize that the liver performs hundreds of critical functions every day, such as processing everything that we eat, breathe and absorb through the skin.

"Whether it is due to genetics, a virus, obesity or alcohol, liver disease is always an uninvited, unwelcome guest, and can be life threatening if not controlled," said Dr. James L. Boyer, Chairman of the Board of ALF and Director of the Liver Center at the Yale University School of Medicine. "The good news is that many liver diseases are preventable and many more, if detected early, can be treated effectively. That's why ALF is committed to teaching Americans about good liver health."

Through its nationwide Liver Wellness Program, ALF is increasing understanding of the liver and its role in maintaining health for a long life and seeks to make liver wellness part of everyone's concern, whether or not they have liver disease.

The Foundation's Liver Wellness program offers the following tips:

-- Follow directions on all medications and read labels and know the

active ingredients, as some medication affect the liver.

-- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity or extreme weight gain may increase

your risk of fatty liver disease.

-- Be careful when using aerosol cleaners. Make sure the room is well-

ventilated, or wear a mask as all chemicals are absorbed through the


-- Be careful using all chemicals. That includes insecticides and paint

sprays. Wear a mask, and wash your skin thoroughly after use.

-- Make sure tattooing, piercing and other needles have never been used

on anybody else. Contaminated needles can transmit hepatitis A, B and

C infection.

-- Avoid sharing razors, toothbrushes, or nail clippers. These have been

known to transmit hepatitis C infection.

-- Don't use illegal drugs. Street drugs such as cocaine and heroin can

severely harm the liver.

-- Use alcohol responsibly. That means no more than 3 ounces of alcohol

per day-the equivalent of a six-pack of beer, half a bottle of wine,

or 6 ounces of hard liquor.

-- Practice safe sex. Unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners

increase your risk of hepatitis B and C infection.

-- Get vaccinated. Vaccines are available for hepatitis A and B.

-- Get tested if you are at risk for hepatitis B and C. Risk factors

include previous blood transfusions, needle use, healthcare

professions with patient contact, and high-risk sexual experiences.

Hepatitis B and C may cause few or no symptoms, so it's always best to

ask your doctor for tests.

-- Watch for these symptoms. They could be a sign of liver disease:

a. Yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes (jaundice)

b. Abdominal swelling or pain

c. Prolonged itching of skin

d. Very dark urine or pale, bloody, or tar-like stools

e. Chronic fatigue, nausea, or loss of appetite

f. Loss of sexual drive or performance

g. Sleep disturbances or mental confusion

The American Liver Foundation is the nation's leading nonprofit organization promoting liver health and disease prevention. ALF provides research, education and advocacy for those affected by liver-related diseases including hepatitis. Please visit the American Liver Foundation's Web site at

SOURCE American Liver Foundation
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