The liver - a barometer for 21st century ills

    Canadian Liver Foundation urges Canadians to LIVERight for life-long

    TORONTO, March 4 /CNW/ - Too much, too fast, too long or even too little
- today we live a life of extremes and it's taking a serious toll on our
livers. Whether it's too much unhealthy food, too little exercise, too many
medications or prolonged exposure to chemicals, the liver will often suffer
these assaults in silence but the long-term consequences are leading to an
increase in liver-related conditions like fatty liver disease and liver
    "The liver is a barometer for many of the ills of the 21st century," says
Gary Fagan, Canadian Liver Foundation president, "but the good news is that it
is a very forgiving organ meaning that taking some preventative measures or
making better lifestyle choices can lead to more positive outcomes. Few people
realize the vital role the liver plays in nurturing and protecting the body.
The truth is that we all make decisions everyday that can have positive or
negative impacts on our livers."
    As part of its new LIVERight campaign, the Canadian Liver Foundation is
issuing a call to action to all Canadians to learn how to safeguard their
liver health in day-to-day life. The goal of LIVERight is to raise awareness
regarding some of the main factors that can affect how our liver functions,
including nutrition, exercise, environment, immunization, medication
management and risk management. This year, as part of its Liver Health Month
activities in March, the Foundation will be putting the spotlight on the link
between nutrition and liver health.
    "Fat induced liver disease has overtaken alcohol and viral infections as
the most common cause of liver disease in Europe and North America," says Dr.
Kevork Peltekian, Canadian Liver Foundation Chairman and the only full-time
practicing hepatologist in the Maritimes. "If we extrapolate data from the US,
it's quite likely that unless we change things now, in the next 20 or 30 years
obesity will be the leading cause of cirrhosis or irreversible scarring. Fatty
liver disease may also become the most common indication for transplantation
throughout North America." Fatty liver disease is caused by a build-up of fat
in the liver which can lead to inflammation and eventually cirrhosis and
sometimes even liver cancer. Excess fat in the liver can also increase the
risk of diabetes and other health conditions.
    More than 1 in 10 Canadians suffers from some form of liver or biliary
tract disease - and may not even be aware of it. There are over 100 causes of
liver disease. Unfortunately, getting diagnosed or treated is difficult
because of the persistent stigmas and ignorance that surround liver disease
and the woefully inadequate medical resources in this field. In Canada,
hepatologists (liver specialists) are spread very thin. Currently, liver
patients outnumber hepatologists 25,000 to 1 with some patients having no
access to a specialist within their own province.
    Through its LIVERight campaign, the Foundation wants to put liver health
on the radar of each and every Canadian. "Liver health needs to be a priority
for individuals, health care professionals, governments and industry," says
Dr. Peltekian. "Each of us has the opportunity to take proactive steps in our
daily routines to avoid risks and help the liver do its job. Meanwhile, the
medical community, governments and industry need to work together to ensure
there are sufficient resources for patient care, research and prevention.
Without definitive action, the numbers may continue to move in the wrong

    For more information on LIVERight or the Canadian Liver Foundation's
Liver Health Month activities, visit or contact your local

For further information:

For further information: Melanie Kearns, (416) 491-3353,

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