Is cirrhosis a death sentence?

I recently attended the meeting of the AASLD, the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease, which is a group of world leaders in research into liver disease.  I was very encouraged by what I heard there and I've been wondering how to explain that to the community dealing with disease.

Fatty liver has mostly been dismissed as a medical problem because it was often benign and even if it wasn't there was no treatment anyway so dealing with it was a matter of waiting until some organ showed symptoms and  try to deal with those until you die.  Many doctors today leave their patients with that feeling of hopelessness with the phrase, I'm sorry but we have no treatment.

There are two very important points that I want to make.  First, it isn't correct to say there is no treatment.  Diet and lifestyle have been well proven to be treatments and there is a lot of information on our website about diets.  If you want to review, here is a link

http://www.fattyliverfoundation.org/diet_compare

More importantly, we live in a very fortunate time because medical knowledge is advancing at a torrid pace.  I've struggled to put that into perspective and decided to relate a discussion I had with Dr Peter Traber, the CEO of Galectin Therapeutics, one of the companies researching liver disease treatment.

Dr Traber is also the author of the blog, LiverLine, which I suggest you read.  It is excellent.  He was relating the changes in health care over his career.  His example was Hepatitis C.  When he began his career the virus was unknown.  Over the course of several decades it was discovered and even though it was very difficult a cure was developed and now we can defeat that disease.  His observation of the state of liver disease research is that we are now on the brink of developing real treatments for liver disease.  Even a veteran researchers like him is impressed by the speed and quality of the work being done on  liver disease today.

There are over 400 drugs being actively evaluated and only a few will turn out to be of value but the research community is confident that they now know enough to be sure that we will get useful therapies in the next several years.  The message for current patients is that for now diet and exercise are your only friends but help is on the way so a hopeful attitude is also part of the therapy.

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