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Posted May 10, 2013: by Bill Sardi
The Centers For Disease Control (CDC) has issued a bulletin suggesting individuals with hepatitis C seek testing that will help determine if their body has cleared the virus or if they are still infected. I’m skeptical of the reasons behind this health directive the CDC itself knows only a small number of people (maybe 2 in 10) do not have a positive antibody test for this viral infection that targets the liver.
An estimated 3 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C and 3 of 4 don’t know it, says the CDC. Hep C is a contagious disease that causes 15,000 deaths a year in the US and is a leading cause of liver transplantation. An estimated 170 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C.
Baby Boomers, those Americans who were born between 1945-65, represent 75% of the hepatitis C cases. Infection is linked to use of injected drugs or blood transfusions during that era.
In effect, the CDC announcement is a free advertisement for the drug companies that produce anti-viral drugs (interferon, ribavirin), drugs that only clear the virus in 50-80% of cases. Therapy is very arduous and fraught with side effects. Most infected patients say they will never endure another round of drug therapy. Drug resistance is another problem.
Progression of the disease is highly variable among infected individuals with health habits and nutrition being paramount factors. Many Hep C patients smoke marijuana, drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, are involved with illicit drugs (cocaine, amphetamines) or have poor diets that confound any efforts to help them. Marijuana smoking increases scarring (fibrosis) of the liver.
The CDC and others health authorities keep beating a drum for an effective vaccine. Some virologists claim a cure for Hep C “is on the near horizon” in the form of expensive drug cocktails. Only 1 of 16 Hep C-infected individuals exhibited a positive response to a recently tested experimental vaccine however. Drug cocktails have produced disappointing results. The genetic variability of the Hep C virus hampers the development of a vaccine.
What some experts propose is a therapeutic vaccine that stimulates the immune system. But other investigators note that, at best, “vaccine-induced immunity may not completely prevent Hep C infection but rather prevent persistence of the virus.”
The fact that 20% of infected individuals are able to clear the virus suggests there is a pathway towards a cure.
Persistent drug use, smoking, alcohol consumption stand in the way of any cure as habitual use of these agents impairs the immune system and limits the activation of antibodies produced by vaccines.
It is clear, however, that illicit drugs, tobacco and alcohol all induce deficiencies of certain nutrients that are necessary for a proper functioning immune system. For example, smoking depletes vitamin C, alcohol depletes zinc, vitamin A, magnesium and vitamin B1.
For example, just the use of vitamin B12 supplements improves the rates of response to medicines used to treat this disease.
Zinc deficiency has been repeatedly identified as a factor that hastens disease progression. Zinc is required to produce T lymphocytes, a white blood cell produced in the thymus gland.
Zinc supplementation has been documented to reduce gastrointestinal problems, weight loss and hair loss associated among patients with chronic Hep C. Zinc deficiency is linked with insulin resistance that secondarily develops among chronically infected Hep C individuals. The lack of zinc apparently results in iron overload which when induces the insulin resistance problem. A shortage of selenium, another trace mineral, is also associated with Hep C-induced insulin resistance.
Low vitamin D levels are also associated with Hep C infection.
Supplementation of the diet with zinc, vitamins A & D (alternate days of supplementation as these two fat-soluble vitamins compete for storage in the liver), and selenium appears to be in order.
Why do public health authorities keep pushing drugs while overlooking nutrients? © 2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.
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