Men: Youthful folly may cause serious disease

Your youthful freedom may have come at a price payable at any time now. Photo: Public image/ hepatitis

WASHINGTON, August 19. 2013 — Men, there is a major disease coming to a neighborhood near you and if it’s not already there, it may strike your home in spades very soon. Your days of sun and fun as a youth may be the carrier to serious trouble. This trouble has a name: hepatitis C (hep-C). Yes, females get it too but in much smaller numbers.

While 50-80 percent of Hep-C victims may be cured, Hep-C is the leading cause of liver transplants today. However, the virus returns after the procedure.

Anyone who recalls the terms “toot stick”, “bareback”, “booting” (non-computer style) “strange”, had a blood transfusion years ago, shared a toothbrush or visited the red light district for fun and games may be among the 17,000 new cases of Hep-C per year. Currently, 3.2 million Americans have Hep-C. 

The reason for the climb is this disease, which is liver inflammation, can take many years to rear its ugly head and chronic drinking will add to the damage the liver endures.

Hep-C is a blood borne virus that was postulated in the 1970’s and verified in 1989. Until 1989, this disease was known as hepatitis non-A or non-B, the only known forms of hepatitis at the time.

More than 12,000 die from Hep-C and its complications annually. The usual causes of death for those who perish is cirrhosis or liver cancer. Having a fatty liver is detrimental for prospects of survival and 80 percent of individuals with active Hep-C cases have fatty livers. Improving food choices and regular exercise can help.

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A common problem from Hep-C not involving the liver is inflammation of blood vessels. Hep-C can also wreak havoc on the body by affecting cardiac function, insulin resistance, nervous system disorders, pancreatic cancer, enlarged veins in the neck and stomach that can burst and having the virus  can eventually affect the mind.

As men get older, new cases from the actions of yesteryear will be reported in larger numbers with proportions potentially reaching epidemic and pandemic.

A simple blood test can show where you stand with Hep-C, including whether antibodies are present which means exposure to the virus. Acute Hep–C is a short term illness that occurs within the first six months of exposure. For unknown reasons, 15-25 percent of those infected ‘clear’ the virus without treatment. Chronic Hep-C remains in the body, although it does not necessarily cause illness. 

Individuals who develop jaundice, grey stools, loss of appetite, nausea, fever, stomach pain, joint pain, dark urine and/or vomiting, should consult a doctor for possible Hep-C.

Women do get Hep-C, but in much lower numbers than men. The only species that can be infected with Hep-Care human and chimpanzee.

Monkeying around as a youth may reveal a high cost. Get checked.


Paul Mountjoy is a Virginia based writer and a member of the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science.




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