liver damage

  1. Liver damage linked to common meds

    Are your meds killing your liver?

    They say the nose knows, but that's not always true.

    Cookies are terrible for you, but they smell great. And one of the healthiest foods in the world -- natto, a fermented bean product from Japan -- smells so bad it can make you gag.

    So, forget the nose.

    If I had to rely on only one part of the body to REALLY "know" what's going on, it would be the liver.

    It works 24 hours a day to sort the good from the bad, filtering toxins out of your blood -- and it has no margin for error.

    Yes, your liver absolutely knows good from bad -- and your liver absolutely HATES many of today's most common medications!

    New research shows that drugs taken daily by hundreds of millions of Americans -- including medications you might be taking right now -- can cause your liver so much stress that it can literally start to fall apart.

    The study names 1,000 drugs that your liver knows are toxic.

    When you take these meds, your liver tries to protect you from them by filtering the worst of it out of your blood.

    But in trying to save you, it often sacrifices itself.

    At the top of the list is a drug we all know all too well: acetaminophen.

    The main ingredient in Tylenol is the nation's leading cause of acute liver failure, as many people don't realize that popping some extra painkillers can damage the organ.

    Acetaminophen is also in dozens of other drugs, from sleep aids to cold remedies, so read all labels carefully.

    It's a lot easier to overdose than you'd think.

    But it's not just acetaminophen.

    Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs can cause inflammation in your liver, and the proton pump inhibitors millions of people think they need to control acid reflux can damage the organ and, in some cases, may even cause liver failure.

    Certain antibiotics and antivirals, cancer meds, and more can also hit you hard in the liver.

    Any one of these drugs on its own can do some damage.

    But I'll bet you don't know too many people taking only one med.

    Millions of Americans, especially older folks, take drugs by the fistful, including SEVERAL meds known to damage the liver -- and all at once.

    As a result, the new study finds that 1 in 1,000 patients suffer from liver damage due to their meds -- a staggering number that could add up to hundreds of thousands of Americans.

    And if you ask me, that estimate might be a little on the low side.

    Fortunately, the most common meds that cause liver injury are rarely necessary. You can avoid them completely -- Tylenol, statins, PPIs, and more -- by working closely with a holistic medical doctor who can get you onto safe and natural alternatives.

    And if you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

    Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

    And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!

  2. Statins for the masses

    Pfizer is getting ready to take a multibillion-dollar loss this fall when it loses patent protection on the best-selling drug of all time. But don't expect them to sit back and watch Lipitor's $11 billion a year in sales go down the drain. The Wall Street Journal says the company is hatching a plan to have its cholesterol-lowering drug sold over the counter.

    And if they get their way, you can bet it won't just be sold in pharmacies anymore. I'm thinking 7-11, McDonald's, and Dunkin Donuts, for starters, where Lipitor can be billed as the antidote to cholesterol-laden convenience foods.

    That's not nearly as far-fetched as it sounds. Some researchers have already proposed doing exactly that. (Read about it here.)

    But if there's anything as bad for you as a fast food meal on your plate, it's a statin in your body. I don't care what you've been told. These drugs are bad news.

    Along with the notorious risk of muscle weakness and debilitating pain, statins have also been linked to kidney failure, liver damage, cataracts, joint and tendon problems, sexual issues, and even an increased risk of diabetes.

    That's right... a drug that's supposed to keep a supposed risk factor for diabetes in check -- cholesterol -- can actually help bring the disease on.

    Here's a better plan: Skip the fast food and skip the statins. Basic lifestyle changes can do a much better job of keeping cholesterol levels under control anyway.

    The one bit of good news here is that Big Pharma is 0-for-2 when it comes to getting statins approved for over-the-counter sales. Merck's plan for OTC Mevacor was rejected by the feds at least three times, along with Bristol-Myers Squibb's bid for nonprescription Pravachol.

    Normally, I spend a lot of time ripping FDA decisions -- and, let's face it, there's a lot to rip. But in this case, the agency has managed to get it right -- and they've already put Pfizer on notice that the bar for over-the-counter Lipitor has been set pretty high.

    "They would have to provide data to show that consumers understand the treatment and recognize that cholesterol-monitoring is required," FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told Bloomberg News.

    That's not going to be easy, because Burgess quickly added that previous studies have shown that patients don't get it.

    "Most study participants made mistakes and chose to take the proposed over-the-counter statin when they should not have done that," she was quoted as saying.

    On the other hand, statins such as Zocor are already available over the counter in the U.K. -- so maybe it's only a matter of time before the FDA follows suit.

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