Liver Health Formula – The New Indian Express
Express press service
BENGALURU: There are over 100 different liver diseases affecting men and women of all ages. But some of them are very common in women and are largely undiagnosed. In recent years, India has seen an increase in liver disease among women due to factors such as increased alcohol consumption, underlying liver and autoimmune diseases, as well as specific problems related to medicine or drugs. Some of the most commonly seen liver diseases are alcoholic liver disease, autoimmune hepatitis, viral hepatitis, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), pregnancy-related liver disease, primary biliary cholangitis (PBC), benign liver tumors and cirrhosis.
The liver performs more than 500 vital functions in our body, including the production of bile, blood plasma, the conversion of excess glucose, the removal of drugs and other toxic substances from the blood, the regulation of blood clotting and blood amino acid levels, etc. Any abnormalities or disturbances in function can damage the liver, which can lead to liver damage or liver failure. Chronic fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, abdominal pain and swelling, itchy skin, dark colored urine, swollen ankles and legs and easy bruising are some of the symptoms indicating that you are more likely to have liver disease. Often, liver disease during its initial stage has no specific symptoms, but when the disease progresses and symptoms begin to appear.
Menopause and liver problems
Liver disease is common in both men and women, but some liver diseases only affect women. Women, compared to men, have less body water, gastric enzymes, and are much more likely to have drug toxicity. Lack of estrogen can have a negative effect on the liver. Thus, women after menopause are more likely to develop fatty liver disease. Fatty liver in women can progress to cirrhosis more quickly than in men. Women are also at risk of gaining more weight after menopause due to hormonal changes. This can be life threatening because fat can build up in liver cells, which can lead to fibrosis, then cirrhosis and eventually cancer. According to NCBI research data, women are 10 times more likely to have primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) than men and four times more likely to have autoimmune hepatitis.
Some liver diseases are commonly seen in women such as pregnancy-related liver diseases such as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHS), hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP), Acute fatty liver of pregnancy (AFLP), HELLP syndrome. This can be attributed to biological reasons.
Alcohol-related liver disease on the rise
Drugs and alcohol affect the liver earlier and faster than men, and in lower doses. Alcoholic hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver caused by alcohol consumption, can develop over weeks and months, while some alcohol-related liver diseases, such as cirrhosis, take years to develop . During the pandemic, there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of heavy drinking episodes among women.
(The author is a consultant – hepatologist and liver transplant physician, Aster CMI Hospital)
How to Maintain a Healthy Liver
- Regular exercise helps you fight weight gain associated with menopause
- Have a healthy diet. Avoid saturated fats
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid overuse of over-the-counter medications. Illegal drugs and non-prescription herbal supplements that are generally unregulated so you don’t know what’s in them or their actual benefits