AASLD: American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases
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Liver Facts 


The liver is critical to a person's well-being.

The liver:   

  • Processes all food and (most) drugs we eat
  • Stores iron reserves, as well as vitamins and minerals
  • Makes bile to help digest food
  • Detoxifies poisonous chemicals, including alcohol and drugs
  • Stores energy by stockpiling sugar until needed
  • Makes blood (not in adults)
  • Manufactures new proteins
  • Makes clotting factors to help blood clot
  • Removes poisons from the air, exhaust, smoke, and chemicals we breathe

  • Top Ten Facts You Should Know
    About Liver Disease In The United States!

    1. 4 - 5 million Americans are chronically infected with the Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), which can destroy their livers without any symptoms.

    2. 1.25 Million Americans are chronically infected with the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), which is entirely preventable with a vaccine, and for which good treatments are available if patients are appropriately screened and diagnosed.

    3. Of the 1.0 million people chronically infected with HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – 250,000 also have HBV, and  ~ 50,000 also have HCV.  Liver disease is now the leading cause of death in Americans with HIV infection.

    4. Five percent of veterans receiving care from the VA are infected with HCV, more than three times the rate of the general population.

    5. Primary Liver Cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma) is one of the deadliest forms of cancer known, and has the fastest rising cancer incidence in the United States. Less than ten percent of afflicted patients survive their disease.

    6. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects up to 30-40 million Americans, yet few realize the imminent threat.  Individuals who are overweight are at increased risk of developing NAFLD.

    7. NAFLD is a major risk factor for the development of diabetes and heart disease. 

    8. 27,500 Americans died of chronic liver disease and cirrhosis in 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

    9. 15,750 Americans are waiting for a liver transplant as of March 2009.

    10. Liver transplantation surgery costs $200,000 - $300,000, with the annual cost of drugs and follow-up medical visits thereafter from $12,000 to $20,000.

    1,2,3 – Alter, MJ J Hepatology 2006
    4 – El-Serag, HB J Hepatology 2009
    5 – Everhart, JE J Gastroenterology 2009
    6 -- Targher et al, Diabetes Care 2007
    8– National Vital Statistics Report, Vol 56, N0. 10, 4-24-08
    9– UNOS Website 3-25-09
    7,10  – Websites (Various)