If you’re a Baby Boomer, you’re at higher risk of liver cancer compared to the rest of the population. This is due to another health risk: hepatitis C (I’ll explain why in a moment).
If neither of the criteria above applies to you, I’m sorry to say, but you’re not out of the woods. Not by a long shot. In coming years we’ll be seeing millions of new liver cancer diagnoses, completely unconnected to hepatitis C or age.
The reason? It’s due to a far more pervasive risk. And it’s one of the most preventable threats of all: Poor dietary choices.
Your unsung workhorse
Unlike the rest of our major bodily organs, many people have no idea exactly what their liver does…
Simply put, your liver is a workhorse. It’s the unsung hero of your major organs. Here are just a few key liver functions:
- It filters and processes chemicals from food, beverages, supplements, and drugs
- It helps regulate blood sugar
- It manufactures and processes cholesterol
- It produces and assimilates many enzymes and hormones
- It removes waste products from blood
- It secretes bile necessary for fat digestion
- It stores and processes nutrients
- It supports the immune system
Every hour, your liver performs these and hundreds of other indispensable tasks. So it’s easy to see how liver dysfunction can turn into a full-body crisis.
This is the dilemma facing millions of Baby Boomers — those of us born between 1945 and 1965 — who are five times more likely to become infected with the hepatitis C virus compared to the rest of the population.
Untreated hepatitis C can cause cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), which sets the stage for liver cancer.
The reason for this high risk among Boomers was a mystery for many years, until 2016 when Canadian researchers conducted a meticulous data review. Their analysis revealed a link between hepatitis C risk and haphazard sterilization of syringes and blood transfusion devices. Rates of the virus dropped off sharply when disposable syringes were introduced in the 60s.
Boomers are just now getting hit with infections because hepatitis C can lie dormant in the body for decades. This sends liver cancer risk soaring when the virus isn’t detected with a blood test and treated.
And according to a report published by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), death rates for cancer have dropped off — except for liver cancer. In fact, the rates of liver cancer have tripled in the U.S. since the 1970s.
The NCI attributes this trend to cirrhosis, triggered by hepatitis C and alcoholism. But there’s one more cirrhosis risk that’s more pervasive and needs much more attention: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.
Threats from all directions
In Dr. Fred Pescatore’s Essential Protocol to a Cancer-Free Future, he issues an urgent warning about on NAFLD.
The reason? Two “epidemics” currently affecting millions of Americans are the primary causes of cirrhosis: obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Pescatore explains: “While alcoholism and hepatitis C used to be the liver’s primary adversaries, that’s no longer the case. Today, it’s fatty liver from too much sugar (which turns into fat), bad fats, lack of exercise, and other lifestyle disasters. An estimated 80 to 100 million Americans suffer from fatty liver.”
In addition to obesity and type 2 diabetes, Dr. Pescatore notes three other common threats:
- Acetaminophen — the leading cause of liver failure in the U.S.
- Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs
- Daily exposure to toxins from air pollution, household chemicals, etc.
But as common as these threats are, none are as dangerous as NAFLD…
Reading the warning signs
Fortunately, these days, doctors now have the proper tests at their disposal to pinpoint NAFLD warning signs.
Dr. Pescatore elaborates: “These are the same simple blood screens that I do for my patients, and every doctor is familiar with them. First, there’s the AST (aspartate aminotransferase) and the ALT (alanine aminotransferase). These are the most common liver function tests, and they’re part of nearly every routine blood chemistry test.
“Elevated levels of these enzymes may indicate liver damage — but not always. And they won’t tell you much about the severity of the problem either. So if results raise an eyebrow, further testing is in order.
“The next round of tests include: Alkaline phosphatase; total and direct bilirubin; albumin; and total protein.”
Dr. Pescatore adds that if you drink alcohol regularly or if you smoke cigarettes (two more burdens to your liver), a GGT (Gamma-glutamyl transferase) test also helps spot liver damage.
And another test—called AFP (alpha-fetoprotein) — can also detect dysfunction in the liver. This screening involves imaging, so it’s somewhat a “last resort.” Even so, Dr. Pescatore believes it’s an appropriate test for anyone who is obese, has type 2 diabetes, and smokes or drinks.
Beyond testing, Dr. Pescatore offers this recommendation: “I think a Mediterranean-style whole food diet — a diet rich in fresh vegetables, protein and healthy fats — is the cornerstone of good health. Without it, nothing else you do really matters.
“Simply changing your diet will effectively address the risk that obesity and diabetes pose to your liver.”
Dr. Pescatore has much more to say about supplements that offer excellent liver support and strategies for avoiding common liver-harming toxins in his Essential Protocol to a Cancer-Free Future. Click here to learn more about this online learning tool, or to enroll today.
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