Treat your liver this holiday season

The holiday season means fun, laughter and treats. While we treat ourselves to another slice of triple cream brie or finish off the last bit of Sauvignon Blanc you might tell yourself, “This little bit is not going to hurt.” In reality, those ‘little bits’ each day can add up down the track.

“The liver is the underrated workhouse of our body. This organ performs over 500 functions, and for the most part is content to quietly go about its job. But as industrious as it is, there is only so much it can handle,” says Professor Darrell Crawford, Director of Research at Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation, located at Greenslopes Private Hospital (GPH) in Brisbane.

In addition to his role at GMRF, Professor Crawford is a prominent gastroenterologist at GPH treating many people with liver injury.

Professor Crawford sees first-hand the rapidly rising rate of liver injury in Australians. One in four Australians has or will develop fatty liver disease in their life time. With symptoms that fly under the radar, this disease can go undetected for a long time. If left untreated, fatty liver disease can progress to further liver damage and in some cases may turn into liver cancer. For people with liver cancer the treatment options are limited. At GMRF, world class scientists are conducting innovative research to help people with liver injury from the early stages of disease to advanced cancer.

For veterans, the liver health crisis is even more serious. Liver illnesses are the second biggest killer of Australian Vietnam War veterans. GMRF research, conducted in partnership with RSL Queensland, uncovered altered liver architecture in veterans, particularly among those with PTSD – most likely due to fatty liver. The severe impact of liver illness on our veterans highlights the necessity of this research right now.

To overcome some of these challenges, GMRF researchers are investigating less invasive ways of detecting liver injury using saliva samples rather than an expensive piece of equipment, which could enable more healthcare access to rural and remote communities. Other GMRF scientists are searching for different ways to treat aggressive cancer stem cells by understanding the microenvironment surrounding the cancer. The GMRF Liver Research Unit is working tirelessly to prevent the devastating impact of liver disease and liver cancer on the Australian community.

So think about treating your liver this holiday season and balance the festive cheer by increasing fruits and vegetables or adding some more movement into your day.

Learn more about the GMRF Liver Research Unit