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Hepatitis C, a common blood-borne infection, is one of the leading causes of liver cancer. According to experts, almost 30 per cent of people who are exposed to the hepatitis C virus will clear it on their own. But the rest will go on to have chronic hepatitis C. This causes extended inflammation in the liver, which leads to cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. This can ultimately lead to liver cancer. Unfortunately, till date, there is no vaccine against this virus. As we get ready to observe Word Hepatitis Day on July 28 to enhance awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes a range of health problems, including liver cancer. According to the World Health Organisation, there are five main strains of the hepatitis virus A, B, C, D and E. Together, hepatitis B and C are the most common cause of deaths, with 1.3 million lives lost each year.
The theme for this year is "Hepatitis-free future". As we get near World Hepatitis Day, we need to take a look at hepatitis C, a silent infection with hardly any symptoms. The virus that causes hepatitis C mutates very fast. This is why it is difficult to develop a vaccine against it. Here, let us see how you can bring down your risk of liver cancer, which is a common fallout of hepatitis C infection.
You can bring down your risk of liver cancer by almost 75 per cent if you get timely treatment for hepatitis C. Knowing the risk factors and getting screened are your best defenses. Get yourself screened for Hepatitis C. This can be done through a simple blood test. This is an easily treatable condition. In fact, of the seven viruses that can cause cancer, hepatitis C is the only one that's curable. Early detection and treatment is essential to bring down your risk of liver cancer.
The first thing you need to do is stop drinking alcohol. If you have hepatitis C and you drink, liver damage is inevitable and quick. Smoking also increases your risk of liver cancer even if you don't have this condition. So, you need to stop smoking now. Some painkillers and sleeping pills can also cause liver damage. Consult your doctor if you use any such drugs. Follow a healthy diet and get regular exercise. Healthy living can go a long way in bringing down your risk of liver cancer.
The hepatitis C virus is not spread by sharing eating utensils, breastfeeding, hugging, kissing and holding hands. You will also not get it via respiratory droplets. However, you can get it from contaminated needles, long-term hemodialysis, organ transplant or blood transfusion before 1992 and if you get a tattoo done in an unclean environment. Mothers can pass it on to their children if they are infected. Unsafe sexual contact may also be responsible for virus transmission.
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