Next time you’re on a 747 airplane, consider these odds: The plane will be carrying, say, about four hundred people. Chances are more than three of them are infected with Hepatitis C.
Have I scared you? I hope I have. Hepatitis C is highly contagious, and it’s one of the most widely spread diseases in the United States.
Hepatitis hasn’t had the publicity we’ve given to AIDS or cancer or even high blood pressure. But I’m telling you right now, it’s time to bring this killer into the spotlight.
You know how many Americans have Hepatitis C, this very minute while we’re talking about it? Over Three and a half million have this disastrous disease of the liver. And most of them won’t even know they have it until their liver is seriously damaged.
Here’s a nasty statistic: Doctors are seeing over 150,000 new cases of viral hepatitis each year in the United States. And ten thousand people die each year die because of liver disease we can attribute directly to hepatitis C. Ten thousand die. Maybe one thousand lucky people survive each year. They’re the ones who are able to get a liver transplant.
Why does Hepatitis C eventually damage your body so badly you either get a liver transplant or you die? I’ll tell you why: because this disease will eventually develop cirrhosis. You may think drinking too much alcohol is the only way you can get cirrhosis of the liver. Boy, are you wrong! Oh, certainly drinking will damage your liver. And if you have hepatitis C and drink – well, just hope your insurance is paid up.
I’ve just said you can be walking around with hepatitis and not even know it. How is that possible? Because in one lethal way, hepatitis is like AIDS: Years can pass between the time you’re infected and the time it shows up.
Now, I’m assuming nobody in this room gets the infection the way tens of thousands of careless people do – by sharing a needle while injecting an illegal drug. Believe this: Eighty-five percent of intravenous drug users have Hepatitis C. Assuming they don’t die on the streets, every one of them is going to wind up in a hospital, where every one of them will face long and painful treatments that may or may not keep them alive. Eighty-five percent! And yet, we don’t see the news coverage we see for AIDS.
All right, I think it’s safe to say nobody here is sharing needles. So how does anyone contract hepatitis? Well, thousands of American servicemen who served in Viet Nam brought this disease back with them. They then were able to infect their families and their sex partners. And here’s another way: Until nineteen-ninety, blood for transfusions wasn’t screened for hepatitis C.
Sometimes people share toothbrushes and razors. Please, please don’t do that. You may think you’ve rinsed that brush or razor clean, but it still can have drops of blood on it. Gross uh?
The current explosion of Hepatitis C really has epidemiologists worried, because we’re just now twenty to thirty years beyond the time of the Vietnam veterans returned. And sometimes hepatitis takes that long to show up. So the infections of the past are only now producing potentially fatal symptoms. I think it’s safe – or, make that un-safe – to say liver disease due to viral transmission hasn’t nearly reached its expected peak.
You may or may not know there are five identified types of hepatitis – A, B, C, D, and E. Hepatitis B also seems to be everywhere … but Hepatitis C seems more likely than hepatitis B to cause a chronic infection. That tells us it’s more difficult for the immune system to eliminate it. Hepatitis B is as deadly, it may occur acutely and then resolve completely – gone forever. Those with Hepatitis C aren’t so lucky. In fact, some researchers believe that nearly everybody who’s exposed to the Hepatitis C virus becomes chronically infected. Three of five develop chronic liver disease that shows up with elevated liver enzyme levels.
One problem in identifying Hepatitis C is that elevated liver enzymes can be caused by a whole bunch of things – even Tylenol. So unless the levels are quite high most physicians ignore them. Because more than half the people who actually have hepatitis C don’t show any symptoms at all, I suggest to you that the next time you see your medical doctor you ask specifically to have your blood checked for hepatitis. Incidentally, even then you can be misled, because tests can bring up a false positive.
You probably are wondering what the symptoms are, when they finally show up. Here again, hepatitis shares symptoms with a whole batch of other causes – appetite loss, fatigue, nausea, fever, pain or tenderness in the upper body or in the stomach, dark-yellow urine, and jaundice. And of course liver tests may be elevated. If you have any of these symptoms, then run, don’t walk, to see your doctor.
Diarrhea also can be a symbol of hepatitis, but I hesitate to single this out because diarrhea can stem from so many other causes.
What can you do to treat hepatitis? I’ll scare you a little by describing what treatments have been available in the past. Then I’ll cheer you up by telling you about a new approach.
Until now, treatment for Hepatitis C has depended on Interferon and Ribavirin. These drugs are nothing to joke about. They can cause fever, deep fatigue, bone marrow loss, and severe anemia. It’s one of those cases in which the treatment can be more painful than the ailment.
All right, the symptoms and the traditional treatments are what can go wrong. Now let’s look at what can go right. I don’t think you’d welcome a case of cirrhosis of the liver, or liver cancer, or a liver transplant … or for that matter, dying earlier than you should.
At last we have some good news. Nature has given us help for a healthy liver.
First, use Lecithin. Lecithin is a major source of choline. You probably know that choline is a nutrient essential to proper liver function. In addition to metabolizing cholesterol and fats. Lecithin also protects your liver from damage due to alcohol consumption.
Now you have a better and safer way to help keep your liver enzymes normal, strengthen your immune system, and help ward off cirrhosis. Studies have shown choline deficiency to lead to liver cancer in animals. In humans, a diet deficient in choline results in abnormal liver function after only a few weeks.
Lecithin also has been reported to play a major role in dissolving fat deposits. For women desiring to become pregnant, Lecithin helps implant the egg to the uterine wall. For men, it enhances fertility. For children, it aids mental development.
The second component isn’t as well known. It’s Thymus Extract. I’ll explain the value in one sentence: Thymus is the number one killer of the Hepatitis C virus.
When we’re young, we don’t think too much about the Thymus gland, because it usually is working well, doing its job as “supervisor” of our entire immune system. But as we grow older, the Thymus gland – like so many other parts of our body – gradually atrophies. As we age, the body’s production of defense cells decreases. That’s why older people are so much more vulnerable to inflammations and infections.
Thymus Extract has proved its value in treatment of liver disease. It helps decrease elevated liver enzymes associated with Hepatitis C. Thymus Extract can be one of our most valuable weapons against disease and the weakening that comes with age.
Another ingredient is one you may not have heard of before. It’s called Liver Health. Liver Health is the twenty-first century version of Milk Thistle – and if you’re familiar with alternative medicines, you know Milk Thistle has been renowned for centuries as an antidote for poisons. In fact, Milk Thistle has been accepted as a treatment for snake bites for centuries, because it helps regenerate, strengthen, detoxify, and protect the liver.
Recent research underscores the use of Liver Health in healing liver damage. No matter what caused that damage. It not only helps heal. It actually helps the liver cells regenerate themselves.
Then there’s an old standby, vitamin C. I don’t have to say much about vitamin C because vitamin C as a stimulant to the immune system has been thoroughly documented. No reputable source disputes its worth as an antioxidant.
So we have Lecithin, Liver Health, Thymus Extract, Licorice Extract, and vitamin C, in proportions where each one intensifies the antioxidant powers of the others. Together, these supplements will help you maintain healthy enzyme levels in the liver.