Your liver is the only organ in your body that can regenerate itself. It eliminates toxins, including alcohol, from your blood and is essential for life.
- If even half of your liver cells suffer sudden damage, your liver can usually repair itself in 30 days. Ongoing exposure to drugs, alcohol or viruses, however, may prevent regeneration and lead to irreparable scar tissue.
- Viruses cause the five main types of hepatitis. Hepatitis C is by far the most common. About 75 to 85 percent of people who become infected with hepatitis C develop chronic infection, a leading cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and the most common reason people require liver transplants.
- Vaccinations guard against hepatitis A and B. There is no hepatitis C vaccine.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease affects about 10 to 20 percent of Americans, more often in overweight people. The rate of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has doubled in the past 20 years.
- Liver cancer rates in Americans have tripled since 1980, likely due to increasing hepatitis C and B infections. However, survival rates are also rising, especially when liver cancer is caught early.
- Each year more than 6,000 people receive a liver transplant, compared to just 100 in 1982. Transplant donor numbers are rising, but not enough to meet demand. About 16,000 people are on the waiting list for a liver transplant.
- About 78 percent of people who get a liver transplant survive at least five years and often much longer.