National Liver Awareness Month in October encourages you to act early and be safe in preventing liver disease. Did you know that almost 33,000 Americans die annually from liver cancer every year, according to the American Liver Foundation? Risk factors leading to cirrhosis include chronic viral hepatitis, obesity, alcoholism, as well as poor lifestyle choices. But there is hope. With early detection, you can double your survival rate. National Liver Awareness Month has events planned all over the country to keep you informed about that heavy lifter in your body, the liver.
History of National Liver Awareness Month
Until the seventeenth century, the liver was believed to be the origin of blood, with Roman philosophers describing the organ as warm and moist, and “the source of the veins and the principal instrument of blood production.” Several ancient scholars also assumed that a fire perpetually burned in the liver, leading them to consider it the spot where the human soul resided.
Liver ailments have been known to mankind for centuries. Autopsies performed on Egyptian mummies showed liver damage caused by a widespread parasitic infection called Bilharziasis. The Greek physician Hippocrates described liver abscess in 400 B.C. and the mythological story “Prometheus” also implies that the Greeks may have been aware of the liver’s ability to regenerate from severe damage.
The first liver transplant was performed by Francis Moore on a dog in 1958. The first human liver transplant was in 1963 and was performed by Dr. Thomas E. Starzl, setting the precedent for liver treatments still performed to this day.
Recently we have begun to start observing National Liver Awareness Month. The annual occurrence serves to highlight the importance of the organ and to celebrate and medical discoveries made by scientists.