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Zinc supplement helps hepatitis C

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By Jimmy DOwns

Tuesday Nov 27, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- People with hepatitis C may be better off taking a zinc supplement for a long term, a study recently published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition suggests.

H. Matsumura at Nihon University School of Medicine in Tokyo, Japan and colleagues conducted the long term trial and found a seven-year zinc supplementation reduced the risk of progression of hepatitis c into liver cancer by nearly 90%, compared with those who did not use zinc supplements.

The Japanese researchers found patients with chronic hepatitis C who were treated with zinc supplementation therapy for three years and had their serum zinc concentrations increased experienced a significant reduction in the aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotaransferase, and an increase in platelet counts.

After a seven-year zinc supplementation, zinc supplement therapy and platelet counts were found associated with 89% and 23% reduced risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or liver cancer, respectively, compared with those who did not receive the supplementation.

The researchers also observed those with serum albumin concentrations of 4.0 g/dl or more at baseline, zinc supplementation increased serum zinc concentration significantly and the cumulative incidence of liver cancer tended to decrease.

The researchers concluded "Zinc supplementation therapy seems to improve liver pathology and reduce the incidence of HCC."

Zinc is an important mineral nutrient that is found high in seafood.  Because seafood is not commonly available, zinc supplements are often used as a source for this nutrient. 

Zinc deficiency can affect children in a number of ways including impaired growth and development, delayed neurolgocal and behavioral development, impaired immune system function, increase susceptibility to infectious disease, pneumonia, and malaria. It can also lead to negative immune response in the elderly and pregnancy complications. Zinc supplements are commonly used to prevent common cold, age-related macular degeneration, diabetes mellitus and HIV/AIDS.

What is hepatitis C?  Hepatitis C is a dangerous viral infection.  An estimated 3.2 million Americans are chronically infected with hepatitis C virus with many showing no signs or symptoms.  Patients with hepatitis C are at high risk for liver cancer.   

Common hepatitis C symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, belly pain, itchy skin, sore muscles, dark urine, and jaundice. 

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