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Alcoholics with Hepatitis B must watch out for liver cancer

Staff Reporter
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Testing blood:A lab technician collecting blood sample at the medical education programme on World Hepatitis Day in Tiruchi on Saturday.PHOTO: M.SRINATH
Testing blood:A lab technician collecting blood sample at the medical education programme on World Hepatitis Day in Tiruchi on Saturday.PHOTO: M.SRINATH

The 20 per cent increase in sale reported by TASMAC in 2011 does not bode well in the context of liver diseases. While a person with hepatitis B infection had an eightfold risk of developing liver cancer compared to a non-infected person, the chances of an alcoholic with hepatitis B developing cancer was forty fold, was the caution sounded at a medical meet here on Sunday.

Addressing doctors at a medical education programme to mark World Hepatitis Day, V.G.Mohanprasad, consultant gastroenterologist and hepatologist, warned against alcohol and obesity as triggers for chronic liver disease and cancer.

Statistics showed one in 12 Indians suffered from hepatitis infection, though it was heartening that new infections of hepatitis B were coming down, he said. It is important to educate people that jaundice is not a disease but manifestation of symptoms and herbal cures are not the solution.

Prevent mother to child transmission

In his address on ‘are we on the right track of management of hepatitis B and C?’ Dr.Mohanprasad, chairman, VGM Hospital, Coimbatore, said preventing parent-child transmission of hepatitis B is crucial. Starting antiviral drugs at the start of the third trimester for hepatitis B positive mothers if necessary, and administration of vaccine and immunoglobulin to newborn within 24 hours of birth is imperative.

Screening blood of donors and vaccinating everyone against Hepatitis B is essential. Taiwan was a case in point of drastic reduction in chronic hepatitis complaints within few years of introducing hepatitis B vaccine in national immunisation programme.

Don’t share needles or syringes

In the case of hepatitis C infected persons, the goal was slowing progression of infection into chronic liver complaint. Major causes of hepatitis C are injecting drugs and sexual contact. “It is possible to cure hepatitis C by fighting it with interferon (drug),” said the hepatologist. Interferon treatment is also an option for hepatitis B persons with certain indications.

Though it is expensive, conventional interferon treatment is now covered under Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Insurance Scheme. Reducing shared needles and syringes, screening donor blood and checking spouses and family of hepatitis C infected can stall the spread of infection.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or accumulation of fat in the liver is a growing cause of concern with obesity reaching pandemic proportions, said Dr.Mohanaprasad. Fatty liver is reversible but has to be attacked early.

The programme was an initiative by the Gastro Club, Indian Medical Association, Tiruchi Branch, Association of Physicians of India and Association of Surgeons of India.

In connection, a free public screening camp for college students, nursing, and paramedics was held on Saturday.

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