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Surprising Things That Can Damage Your Liver

Sugar

Too much sugar isn’t just bad for your teeth. It can harm your liver, too. The organ uses one type of sugar, called fructose, to create fat. Too much refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup cause a fatty buildup that can lead to liver disease. Some studies show that sugar can be as damaging to the liver as alcohol, even if you’re not overweight. One more reason to limit foods with added sugars, like soda, pastries, and candy.

 

MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)

MSG enhances the flavor of many packaged and prepared foods, from chips to diet drinks. (You might see it on a food label as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein,” “yeast extract,” or “soy extract.”) Still, some studies of animals suggest that the chemical may make the liver fatty and inflamed, which can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and liver cancer. Scientists need more research to know if MSG affects humans the same way.

 

Herbal Supplements

Just because the label says “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe. One serious danger is kava kava, an herb that can relieve menopause symptoms and help you relax. Studies show it can keep the liver from working, causing hepatitis and liver failure. Some countries have banned or restricted the herb, but it’s still available in the U.S. You should always talk to your doctor before you take any herbs to make sure they’re safe.

 

Obesity

If you’re carrying around extra weight, fat can also build up in your liver cells, which can lead to NAFLD. It can make the liver swell. Over time, hardened scar tissue can replace healthy tissue (a condition doctors call cirrhosis). People who are overweight or obese, middle-aged, or have diabetes are at highest risk of NAFLD. There’s no cure, but eating well and exercise can sometimes reverse the disease.

 

Too Much Vitamin A

You can find vitamin A in eggs and milk as well as fresh fruits and vegetables, especially those that are red, orange, and yellow. Many supplements also include it since it helps improve vision, strengthen bones, and give a boost to your immune system.  But in very high doses, vitamin A is toxic to the liver. To stay safe, never take more than 10,000 IU a day.

Unsterile Tattoos

When you get a tattoo or body piercing in a licensed, clean shop that sterilizes its equipment after each customer, the chances you’ll get a serious infection like hepatitis C are low. But if tools aren’t properly cleaned, your risk of hep C shoots up. The virus spreads through contact with the blood of an infected person and causes serious, sometimes lifelong liver illness. Check out the shop and its safety record before you get inked.

 

Soft Drinks

Scientists studied the diets of a group of people with NAFLD, taking into account their weight, the amount of fat in their blood, and if they had diabetes. One thing stood out: 80% of them drank 2 or more soft drinks a day. It didn’t matter if it was calorie-free or regular soda, which means an ingredient besides sugar could play a role in the condition. There’s no hard evidence, but some researchers think artificial sweeteners might be to blame.

 

Antidepressants

It’s rare, but some antidepressants can harm your liver, even if you take them for only a few days. In some cases, the damage can be deadly. Older people or anyone taking a lot of other meds are at higher risk because their liver may be damaged already. If you’re taking antidepressants, talk with your doctor to make sure you’re on the smallest dose you need. Make sure you know the symptoms of liver illness to watch for.

 

Trans Fats

Trans fats are a man-made fat common in packaged foods and baked goods. (You’ll see them listed in the ingredients as “partially hydrogenated vegetable oil” or “vegetable shortening.”) A diet high in trans fats not only boosts your chances of gaining weight, it makes severe liver disease with scar tissue more likely. In one study, mice that ate a fast-food diet high in trans fats had liver damage after only 4 months.

 

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Canadians to government: Help keep seniors at home

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Canadians want to stay at home when get older, and they want the government to help.

The vast majority, 93%, of Canadians believe the country should adopt a national health-care strategy to keep seniors at home as long as possible, found a Canadian Medical Association report. And they say that strategy should involve lightening the burden on hospitals, hospices and long-term care facilities by keeping seniors at home longer.

“The results of this year’s CMA report card send a clear and direct message to policy-makers and public office holders that all levels of government need to act to address the demographic tsunami that is heading toward the health-care system,” said CMA president Dr. Anna Reid in a press release.

What’s more, most people think the country currently is doing a poor job at taking care of its seniors and isn’t ready for the growing population of elderly Canadians.

Less than half, 41%, believe facilities in their areas can handle the number of seniors who can’t stay at home.

Canadians are worried about their own futures, with 83% saying they’re concerned about health care in retirement, and 77% saying they’re worried about having access to high quality home care and long-term care.

“The anxiety Canadians have about health care in their so-called golden years is both real and well-founded,” Reid added. “Let there be no doubt that a national strategy for seniors health care should be a federal priority.”

The CMA surveyed 1,000 Canadians over 18 between July 17-26, with a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points at a 95% confidence level.

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Helping More Seniors Get Care They Need at Home

Ontario Improving Access to Home and Community Care in the London Area

Seniors in London and the rest of southwestern Ontario are receiving better access to home care and community supports to help them live independently and at home longer.

Ontario is providing nearly $21 million to support home care for more seniors and for expanded community health care services, including mental health supports, in the South West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN).

This investment will support programs that reduce unnecessary emergency room and hospital readmissions, including:

 

  • Expanding Home First, which helps patients move from hospital to home faster with additional community services.
  • Adding more spaces at day programs that provide seniors and adults with complex needs with personal care services including medication administration, mealtime assistance and blood pressure checks.
  • Increasing overnight caregiver respite support through Behavioural Support Ontario to allow four nights per month at five providers across the LHIN for the families of seniors who are living with dementia or have other behavioural challenges.

 

Improving access to home care and community supports is a key priority of Ontario’s Action Plan for Health Care and helps to provide the right care, at the right time, in the right place. This is part of the Ontario government’s economic plan to invest in people, build modern infrastructure and support a dynamic and innovative business climate.

 

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