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Liver awareness presentation discusses dangers


Drinking alcohol can have many repercussions in college, one of which is damaging the liver. More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem annually, according to

A recommended amount of alcohol for women in their early 20s is three glasses of wine per week, said Martha Shea, a registered nurse of the American Liver Association for 32 years, but she said exceeding that amount can be bad.

“Binge drinking alcohol can kill a lot of your brain cells,” said Shea.

Shea led the “Love your Liver” presentation last Wednesday, Nov. 9. The liver is located in the back of the body behind the ribs and is the largest solid organ that stores most of the body’s energy while helping build muscles.

There are over 100 liver diseases to date, according to the American Liver Association’s website. Some are inheritable, but people can contract a liver disease from others by sharing personal items or having unprotected sex.

“I know there could be Hepatitis C in the needle for a tattoo, and it is kept alive for 45 days,” said Shea. “I heard an unfortunate story about a 22-year-old kid who has Hepatitis C because his enzymes flared. The only thing he had was a tattoo. He’s 22-years-old.”

Shea was disappointed at the fact that somebody that young could throw their whole life away.

“He’s going to be miserable,” she said. Tattoos are one common way to contract Hepatitis C, but piercings can also be a way of acquiring the disease as well. Students need to be aware that putting anything into their body could be a way to get the disease, said Shea, who has been a volunteer for the American Liver Foundation for over 10 years. Four million people in America are infected with Hepatitis C. The liver filters toxic chemicals from the body and also stops cuts from bleeding. Maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, said Shea, are good ways to keep a healthy liver.

That comment stood out to Tommy Purcell, junior exercise major, who works out at the gym every day and maintains a healthy diet.

“I already knew keeping a healthy diet and exercising regularly was good,” he said. “This definitely gave me a deeper insight on it though.”

“Aside from Hepatitis A, B and C, there are also Hepatitis D, E and F, but those are mostly in third world countries,” Shea said.

Liver disease is the tenth lead- ing cause of death in the United States, according to Shea’s presen- tation. Liver cancer is increasing in the United States as well. The liver is one of the most vital organs in the human body and is constantly in use.

Alcohol consumption is one practice that could make a liver go from pink and smooth to yellow and bumpy, Shea said. One in four col- lege students binge drink, according to Shea said it is a bad thing. Twenty-five percent of the US population has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and most often it is caused by alcohol consumption, said Shea.

“By seeing the doctor regularly and getting tested regularly maintains a healthy habit,” said Shea.

“Keep taking recommended amount of prescription medications.”

Tylenol helps kill the pain, while also counteracting to kill the liver. Tylenol has a chemical called acetaminophen in it and can cause liver injury in the average healthy adult. By overtaking the recom- mended amount, it puts strain on the body’s liver. The liver has the production of biochemicals used for diges- tion. Exceeding the recommended amount for a healthy adult,  which is eight extra strength pills in a 24-hour period, can cause  liver problems, said Shea.

Smoking is also a way to damage the liver, and students should be aware of that as well. Smoking, drinking, taking drugs, having unprotected sex—are all risk factors when it comes to having a healthy liver.

The liver is a very important organ, said Shea, who had been studying it for many years. As liver cancer is increasing, Shea loved that Southern’s Wellness Center puts on these presentations. Being a Southern graduate herself, she knows how important it is for college students to be aware of how the liver works in the body.

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