Obesity Can Lead to Liver Damage by Age 8

Obesity can lead to liver disease in kids as young as 8 years old, a new study warns.

The long-term study of 635 children in Massachusetts found that a bigger waist size at age 3 increases the odds that a child will have a marker for liver damage and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by age 8.

That marker is called ALT. By age 8, 23 percent of children studied had elevated blood levels of ALT. Those with a bigger waist size at age 3 and those with larger increases in obesity between ages 3 and 8 were more likely to have elevated ALT at age 8, the researchers found.

About 35 percent of obese 8-year-olds had elevated ALT, compared with 20 percent of children whose weight was normal, according to the Columbia University study.

“With the rise in childhood obesity, we are seeing more kids with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in our pediatric weight management practice,” study lead author Dr. Jennifer Woo Baidal said in a university news release.

“Many parents know that obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, but there is far less awareness that obesity, even in young children, can lead to serious liver disease,” she added.

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver, triggering inflammation that causes liver damage. The condition affects about 80 million people in the United States, and is the most common chronic liver condition in kids and teens, the researchers said in background notes.

While nonalcoholic fatty liver disease typically does not cause symptoms, it can lead to scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver and cancer.

“Some clinicians measure ALT levels in at-risk children starting at around 10 years old, but our findings underscore the importance of acting earlier in a child’s life to prevent excess weight gain and subsequent liver inflammation,” Woo Baidal said.

She said the best way for kids and adults to combat fatty liver disease is to lose weight, by eating fewer processed foods and getting regular exercise.

“We urgently need better ways to screen, diagnose, prevent and treat this disease starting in childhood,” Woo Baidal said.

Woo Baidal is director of pediatric weight management at the Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Children’s Hospital, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia.

The study was published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Could cannabis use protect you from liver damage due to drinking?

New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

It’s common knowledge that cannabis is much less harmful to human health than alcohol. But researchers in Massachusetts have published a new study that shows how cannabis could actually help reduce the harmful effects of alcohol use and abuse. Taking advantage of the anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana, the study investigated whether or not marijuana prevents alcohol-related liver disease.

Could Cannabis Help Reduce The Harmful Effects Of Drinking?

Many experts consider alcohol to be the most harmful drug for human health. And indeed, alcohol racks up an astonishing body count each year. According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control, alcohol is responsible for 88,000 deaths each year. It also contributes to a full third of all traffic deaths, about 10,000 fatalities per year.

With a death toll approaching 100,000 annually, alcohol doesn’t discriminate. According to the International Business Times, which reported on a pair of major surveys between 2001 and 2013, drinking’s destructive effects are rising across virtually every demographic in the US.

And that’s because alcohol use is on the rise across the board. So-called “high-risk” drinking is increasing at an even higher rate, marching upwards by 30 percent. As a result, nearly 30 million Americans are exposed to health risks due to their alcohol consumption. In short, alcohol use represents a significant public health concern.

One of the most fatal of those harmful effects is, of course, liver disease.

 New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease.

When a person drinks alcohol, they introduce a harmful substance into their body. The liver tries to filter out the alcohol in the bloodstream, but this damages many liver cells in the process. In response, the liver suffers from inflammation as scar tissue replaces the dead cells.

The more someone drinks, the more significant this damage becomes. Alcohol abuse causes severe, chronic inflammation of the liver, which can lead to fatal cirrhosis of the liver.

One of the most well-documented medicinal effects of cannabis use, however, is as an anti-inflammatory. Marijuana’s anti-inflammatory properties account for why the drug is an effective pain reliever. It’s also why cannabis is used to treat nerve inflammation, which is at the root of many neurological diseases like epilepsy and MS.

Building off of these precedents, researchers with the North Shore Medical Center in Salem, Massachusetts wanted to see if weed’s potent anti-inflammatory capabilities could also help protect the liver from damage.

What they discovered is pretty incredible. The study focused on about 319,000 patients with a past or current history of alcohol abuse. Researchers divided the group into non-cannabis users, non-dependent cannabis users, and dependent cannabis users.

They also studied how cannabis use relates to the four distinct phases of liver disease. These are alcoholic fatty liver disease (AS), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (AH), cirrhosis (AC), and liver cancer (HCC).

Final Hit: New Study Suggests Marijuana Prevents Alcohol-Related Liver Disease

Remarkably, the researchers found that cannabis users had “significantly lower odds” of developing AS, AH, AC, and HCC. What’s more, cannabis users the study classified as “dependent” showed the lowest chances of developing liver disease.

In other words, the more someone used cannabis, the less likely they were to develop liver diseases caused by alcohol abuse. Therefore, the study concluded, there’s reason to believe the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis do protect the liver from damage from alcohol abuse.

Adeyinka Charles Adejumo, who headed the research team, wants to make clear that aim of the study. It isn’t to encourage heavy drinkers to take up cannabis. Furthermore, Adejumo isn’t suggesting mixing alcohol and cannabis consumption. Instead, the scientist views the study as opening the door to cannabis-based treatments for liver disease in individuals who abuse alcohol.

Tylenol can kill you; new warning admits popular painkiller causes liver damage, death

It has been a common household name in over-the-counter pain relief for more than 50 years. But the popular painkiller drug Tylenol is getting a major labeling makeover following a string of personal injury lawsuits. According to the Associated Press (AP), so many Tylenol users these days are suffering major liver damage or dying that the drug’s manufacturer, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, has decided to put a large, red warning label on the cap that informs users about the drug’s risks.

Even when taken at recommended doses, acetaminophen, the primary active ingredient in Tylenol, can cause major damage to the liver, potentially leading to liver failure and even death. In fact, acetaminophen is currently the leading cause of sudden liver failure in the U.S., as its toxic metabolites have been shown to kill liver cells. The drug is so toxic that as many as 80,000 people are rushed to the emergency room annually due to acetaminophen poisoning, and another 500-or-so end up dead from liver failure.


These are disturbing figures that might come as a surprise to most people, especially considering that millions of Americans pop Tylenol and acetaminophen-containing drugs on a regular basis. But with more than 85 personal injury lawsuits and counting filed against the company in federal court, McNeil is feeling the heat from a drug that has long been claimed as one of the safest painkiller drugs on the market, which it clearly is not.

“The warning will make it explicitly clear that the over-the-counter drug contains acetaminophen, a pain-relieving ingredient that’s the nation’s leading cause of sudden liver failure,” writes Matthew Perrone for the AP. “The new cap is designed to grab the attention of people who don’t read warnings that already appear in the fine print on the product’s label, according to company executives.”

The new label, which will bear the phrases “CONTAINS ACETAMINOPHEN” and “ALWAYS READ THE LABEL,” is set to first appear on all bottles of Extra Strength Tylenol, which contains more than 50 percent more acetaminophen per dose than regular strength Tylenol. And in the coming months, all bottles of Tylenol, including regular strength Tylenol, will bear the new label.

NyQuil, Sudafed, Excedrin and many other common drugs also contain acetaminophen

Despite the new label, McNeil, which is owned by drug giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J), insists that Tylenol is safe when taken as directed. But what the company fails to admit is that many people are taking not only Tylenol but also other drugs that contain acetaminophen, which increases their dose of the chemical to levels that are much higher than they probably realize.

According to the AP, nearly one in four Americans, or about 78 million people, consume drug products that contain acetaminophen in a given week. Some 600 over-the-counter drug products, it turns out, contain acetaminophen. These products include other painkiller drugs like Excedrin, for instance, as well as NyQuil cold formula and Sudafed sinus pills.

Combining these and other acetaminophen-containing drugs is a major cause of acetaminophen overdose, say experts, hence the addition of the new labels. But some people who stay well within the maximum daily dose of acetaminophen, which is currently set at 4,000 milligrams (mg) per day, still fall ill or die, which suggests that perhaps any level of acetaminophen is toxic and should be avoided.

“It’s still a little bit of a puzzle,” says Dr. Anne Larson from the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. “Is it a genetic predisposition? Are they claiming they took the right amount, but they really took more? It’s difficult to know.”

Poisonous mushrooms could be key to drugs without side effects

Some species of mushroom are perfectly safe to eat, but others that look very similar can land you in the hospital or worse. In studying how these fungi manage to be so poisonous, a team of Michigan State University researchers may have found a way to create a new generation of pharmaceuticals with highly targeted effects. Imagine chemotherapy drugs with no side effects, or antibacterial agents that can clear out severe infections without damaging other tissues. That’s what poisonous mushrooms could do for medicine. Specifically, it’s an enzyme used by these fungi to manufacture poisons.

This research used mushrooms of the genus Amanita, which includes the notorious death cap mushroom. These fungi produce quite a lot of proteins, but a few are incredibly toxic if ingested. Not only that, but these are hearty little proteins. They can survive cooking and exposure to stomach acid just fine, then pass into the bloodstream. It isn’t until they reach the liver that their deadly effects are felt. The hepatotoxic effects of α-amanitin proteins can cause permanent liver damage, as well as death without treatment. You definitely don’t want to get α-amanitin anywhere near your mouth, but it’s the way this protein survives all the way to your liver that has scientists interested.

Toxic compounds like α-amanitin are what are known as cyclic peptides. Like all proteins, they are composed of chains of amino acids, which are assembled in cells. However, a cyclic peptides are linked together by a strong covalent bond in a ring orientation rather than being folded up and held together by weaker interactions. This makes a cyclic peptide extremely durable, ensuring it can survive the journey through your digestive track and end up wherever it needs to go.


The MSU team was able to pull apart the Amanita toxin and study the way they are produced. This led to the discovery of a second enzyme used in the mushroom’s cells called POPB. This is what takes the freshly produced linear chain of peptides and converts it into a nearly indestructible ring that delivers a deadly payload to your liver. Of course, that’s not the goal of the medical research. Pharmaceutical researchers want to use POPB to create new drugs that can carry therapeutic compounds through the body instead of deadly toxins. You have to admit, that sounds better.

POPB itself isn’t a drug that will cure anything. It’s like you had a missile carrying a nuclear warhead, but you were able to pry out the nuke. Now you’re left with a missile that could be used to deliver something other than unstoppable atomic fire. The problem is figuring out how to formulate the payload to do the most good. The team has already designed several hundred compounds that could be transformed into cyclic peptides, but that’s only the start. There could be billions of potential variants, and most of them won’t be of any clinical significance. One of them might be the magic bullet, though.



How to Clean Your Liver with 5 Natural Liver-Cleansing Tips

Your liver is like the maid of your body, cleaning up all the toxins you put into it, and therefore keeping all internal systems running smoothly. The modern diet, environmental pollutants, and our increasing dependence on toxic personal care products have put our livers on serious overtime. For this reason, it’s important to know how to clean your liver thoroughly and effectively – oh, and naturally.

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Your liver works to cleanse the blood and remove toxic substances that we’ve eaten, inhaled, or rubbed on our bodies. When it is overworked—as it is in many modern adults—or when you are under a significant amount of physical or even mental stress, your liver can struggle to keep up.

“The thousands of enzyme systems that are responsible for virtually every body activity are constructed in the liver,” explains Dr. Karl Maret, M.D. “The proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys are all dependent on good liver activity. If the liver is impaired from constructing even one of the thousands of enzyme systems the body requires, there is an impairment in overall body function and a resultant greater metabolic stress on the individual.”

How to Clean Your Liver – No Products Required

So, what can you do about it? Well, you could try a quality liver detox supplement, or you could use some items found at your local health food store, your grocery store, or even some that are already in your kitchen. Here is how to clean your liver with 5 common food items.

1. Warm Lemon Water – Warm lemon water is a great way to detox your liver every single morning. This isn’t lemonade, so don’t add sugar or anything else. Just purified water and a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice. Some experts, like author A.F. Beddoe who wrote the book Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, also believe that the liver produces more enzymes in response to water with lemon than to any other food.
2. Garlic – Add some garlic to your cooking or thinly slice a clove into your next salad. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help activate enzymes in the liver. It contains allicin and selenium, which are both good for liver protection.
3. Avocados – As if you need another reason to add avocados to your diet, a Japanese study found that avocados contain compounds that can protect the liver from damage. When compared with 21 other fruits, avocados had the most promise in protecting the liver from galactosamine, a “powerful” toxin that has been shown to produce a liver damage much like human viral hepatitis.
4. Cilantro – This versatile herb can be added to just about any dish, including salads or smoothies. This herb can help remove heavy metals from the body, something your liver could be struggling with right now.
5. Turmeric – Another powerful spice with a long list of benefits, turmeric is said to not only protect the liver from damage, but also encourage regeneration of liver cells. In addition, it increases natural bile production and aids in keeping the body toxin-free.

Cleansing your liver is crucial, so don’t hesitate to incorporate these liver-cleansing solutions right now. For more on how to clean your liver, check out these 4 natural liver cleansing foods outlined by Anthony Gucciardi.