(NaturalHealth365) Death rates from liver cancer have doubled since the mid-1980s, reports the American Cancer Society. This dramatic three decades-long rise makes liver cancer the fastest-growing cause of deaths from cancer in the United States. In addition, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver cancer, is on the verge of becoming an epidemic – with an astonishing 30 percent of the American population affected to some degree.
What’s really behind this deadly rise in liver disease and liver cancer? That’s exactly what we’ll focus on today and, more importantly, address how you can protect yourself from harm.
American Cancer Society report paints a grim picture about liver cancer
Liver cancer, or hepatocellular carcinoma, is a particularly deadly form of cancer, with only 20 percent of patients surviving five years after diagnosis. According to a recent American Cancer Society (ACS) report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, liver cancer is expected to claim over 29,000 lives in 2017 alone – making it the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in men and the eighth leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
But what is responsible for the skyrocketing rate of liver cancer deaths?
Experts say that one major factor is the higher prevalence of hepatitis C virus in baby boomers. In severe cases, hepatitis C can progress to both liver failure and liver cancer later in life.
In addition, soaring rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes in the United States are conspiring to cause increased rates of liver disease, which in turn raises the odds of developing liver cancer.
Surging rates of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease contribute to rising liver cancer toll
90 million Americans are currently affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – accumulations of fat in the liver that occur in individuals with minimal or no use of alcohol. Like hepatitis C, NAFLD can lead to liver failure and liver cancer in severe cases.
The most common type of liver disease in both adults and adolescents, NAFLD has been called the “next global health epidemic.” Incredibly, up to 30 percent of the U.S. population currently has NAFLD, although very mild cases may go undiagnosed and practically unnoticed.
Risk factors for NAFLD include obesity, diabetes and high levels of triglycerides – or fats – in the blood.
Symptoms include fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain, weight loss and jaundice – manifested by yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes. Other signs that may indicate the presence of NAFLD are itching, impaired ability to concentrate, confusion and swelling of the legs and abdomen.
Exposure to environmental toxins can trigger liver disease
Natural health experts insist that exposure to toxic pesticides and herbicides can cause cancer, and a growing body of research supports this assertion.
Last April, researchers presented explosive new data at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research – a meta-review involving 16 different studies and demonstrating that people who are exposed to pesticides have a shocking 71 percent greater risk of developing liver cancer.
An additional potential risk factor for liver disease – one that mainstream medicine has not emphasized – is exposure to glyphosate, the herbicide found in Roundup weed killer. Labeled a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization, glyphosate has already been linked to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It is commonly sprayed on GMO crops of soy, corn, and alfalfa – and glyphosate residue has been detected in many common foods and beverages, including breakfast cereals and wine.
In a recent study published in Nature, researchers found that even infinitesimal doses of glyphosate – as small as .1 parts per billion – in drinking water caused non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, liver dysfunction and cellular damage in rats.
The study is particularly significant, as previous studies have focused on the effects of larger doses. In contrast, the dosages used in the new research are many thousands of times lower than levels currently permitted in the United States.
The good news: liver disease and liver cancer are completely preventable
Experts believe the deadly trend in liver cancer and liver disease can be reversed. Simple lifestyle changes – such as diet modification, weight loss, physical exercise, reducing exposure to environmental toxins and avoiding smoking and excessive drinking – can go a long way towards preventing liver problems. Early screening and treatment of hepatitis C can also play an important role in cutting rates of liver cancer.
In addition, certain supplements and nutrients can been shown to help treat existing liver disease.
For example: milk thistle, which contains the powerful anti-inflammatory compound silymarin, has proven anti-cancer and liver-protective qualities. In one clinical study published in World Journal of Hepatology, silybin – a constituent of silymarin – was found to effectively reduce biochemical and inflammatory indices of fatty liver.
In a study conducted at Penn State University and published in Nutrients, researchers found that the essential mineral selenium helped prevent the growth and spread of cancer by reducing microvessel density and the metastasis of cancer cells.
Dandelion root, a natural diuretic and detoxifier, is a time-honored and effective liver tonic, while black seed oil has also been shown to reduce the progression of fatty liver disease. Many naturopathic practitioners also recommend supplementing with antioxidant vitamin E.
And, finally, raw organic fruits and vegetables can help to cleanse a fatty liver. Particularly effective are natural juices that feature carrot juice as a primary ingredient. Animal studies have shown that beta-carotene, a natural antioxidant pigment found in carrots, inhibits the invasiveness of liver cancer cells.
Of course, if you suspect you have liver disease, you should consult your trusted, healthcare provider – as soon as possible.
Although the rising rates of liver cancer and associated deaths are alarming, you can defuse much of the threat by living a healthy lifestyle. Your liver will thank you for it!
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