Hepatitis B and C viruses can lead to liver cancer. Health experts reveal how
Hepatitis B and C combined, have surpassed HIV and Tuberculosis to become leading chronic infectious disease in India. Here's how they can lead to liver cancer
Hepatitis is inflammation of liver and viruses that cause infections and swelling of the liver are termed as hepatitis viruses, which are 5 main ones - Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E viruses where hepatitis A and E viruses cause short lasting liver infections and are often self-limiting in nature but compared to A and E, hepatitis B and C viruses are known to cause long lasting liver infections (Chronic Liver Infections). Hepatitis B and C combined, have surpassed HIV and Tuberculosis to become the leading chronic infectious disease in India.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Mayur Manji Mewada, Associate Professor and Unit Head Department of Medicine at KJ Somaiya Medical College and Research Centre in Mumbai, revealed, “Major reasons for getting these chronic Hepatitis B and C infections are unprotected sexual contact; unsafe transfusion of Blood and Blood products; unhygienic tattooing and sharing of Razor blades. It is estimated that around 4 crores Indians are chronic Hepatitis B infection carriers and approximately 1.2 crore Indians are chronic Hepatitis C infection carriers. Every fourth person suffering from Hepatitis B or C progress to develop cirrhosis (Stiff Non-Functional Liver) and hepatocellular carcinoma (Liver Cancer).”
He explained, “Cirrhosis of Liver and Liver Cancer are responsible for premature or untimely deaths. These premature deaths can be prevented by proper treatment and vaccination strategies. National Viral Hepatitis Control Program (NVHCP) was launched on 28th July 2018 by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; with an aim to combat chronic Hepatitis infections and achieve nationwide elimination of Hepatitis C by the year 2030. Educating the population, free and mandatory vaccination of newborn and health care workers can prevent new Hepatitis infections. Those who are already infected can be cured by use of appropriate anti-viral medicines DAA (Directly Acting Antivirals). Hence Hepatitis B and C infections are important but completely reversible causes of Liver Cancer.”
Bringing his expertise to the same, Dr Amitabh M Keny, MD Consultant Physician, Diabetologist and Cardiologist, highlighted that the common causes of hepatitis are viruses, alcohol, drugs, autoimmune (body destroys its own organ) while the common viruses causing hepatitis are Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E. He shared:
- Hepatitis B and C spreads through unprotected sex, blood transfusions, sharing needles and razor blades, from mother to child during labor.
- Hepatitis A and E spreads through contaminated food and water, a common problem during monsoons.
- Hepatitis B and C viruses can stay in body for long, can lead to Liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
- Hepatitis A and E cause a self-limiting illness of 3-6 weeks duration which is a common viral hepatitis.
- Hepatitis is a preventable disease. It can be prevented by practising safe sex, avoid sharing blades and needles, ensuring hygienic cooking practises like boiling water, avoid eating uncooked food, avoid street food or food prepared and sold under unhygienic conditions and screening pregnant women for the viruses.