Township hosting hepatitis B vaccine clinics

| 15 Feb 2012 | 11:33

    WEST MILFORD — Hepatitis is one of the most harmful diseases one can have, many times leading into liver cancer years down the road. The West Milford Health Department is promoting a series of three hepatitis B vaccines to protect your liver from this devastating disease. The vaccines will be administered at clinics scheduled for Feb. 16, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and March 15, from 3 to 7 p.m. The cost for the series of three vaccines required for immunity is $90. Call 973-728-2725 to schedule your appointment. Causes of liver cancer Twenty years ago, alcohol consumption and cirrhosis were thought to be the major causes of liver cancer. Today, that picture has changed and researchers believe that hepatitis C is behind the greatest increases in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - liver cancer. In a Mayo Clinic study, 11 percent of HCC cases were associated with obesity, especially fatty liver diseases. Due to the nation’s burgeoning obesity crisis, rates of liver cancer may increase dramatically in the foreseeable future according to Dr. Ray Kim. Liver scarring from hepatitis C can take 20 to 30 years to develop into cancer. Because the liver is a non-complaining organ, baby boomers who contracted hepatitis C decades ago aren’t aware of their infection. It is reasonable to recommend that all baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1969, should be tested once for evidence of hepatitis C infection. Additionally, anyone who has experimented with hard drugs or was born in countries where hepatitis is more frequent, should be tested for the infection and then screened for liver cancer if active infection is found. Identified in the early stages of the disease, cancer of the liver is most treatable. The vaccine for hepatitis B is the first vaccine developed to prevent cancer of the liver. In an effort to bring hepatitis B under control, the centers of disease control and prevention recommends that all newborns, children up to the age of 18 and adults at high risk be vaccinated against hepatitis B. Due to the high incidence of hepatitis B among Asian, Pacific Islanders and African immigrants, a major effort is needed to promote vaccination among these populations. Individuals with type 1 or type 2 diabetes between 19 and 59 also should receive the hepatitis B vaccine. Diabetics are at a greater risk from HBV infection, which can be contracted from exposure to minute amounts of blood from sharing a medical or glucose-monitoring device with an infected person. The CDC claims that over 15 percent of adults that have chronic HBV infection go on to develop liver cancer and cirrhosis.