UNITING WITH THE SOUTH ASIAN COMMUNITY – CLF RAISES AWARENESS OF “SILENT KILLER”

“Liver disease is a silent killer and is often not diagnosed until significant liver damage has occurred,” says Dr. Arun Garg. “The three common forms of liver disease that we have been seeing in the South Asian Community are non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), hepatitis C (Hep C), and alcohol-related liver diseases. Raising awareness, reducing stigma, and engaging people into care in a timely manner will be key to prevention and early treatment.”

Dr. Francis Ho, President of the BC Chapter Board of Directors for the Canadian Liver Foundation (CLF), comments,  “Championed by Dr. Arun Garg and Chaired by Dr. Saroj Kumar, the CLF, BC/Yukon Region, is excited to work with a group of leadership volunteers to form the BC South Asian Committee to bring awareness, liver health education, and peer support resources to the community.” Dr. Ho continues, “Building on the success we have working with the Chinese community on the Hep Beware Project, we are delighted to promote diverse population-based education and awareness, where two large ethno-cultural groups in BC will be working together, on a major health issue at a grassroot level.”

“The role of the committee is to raise awareness of liver disease, to reduce stigma and fear associated with the disease, identify gaps and challenges for liver care, and connect the community with CLF’s resources so they can reach out for help if needed,” says Dr. Saroj Kumar.

Joining Dr. Garg and Dr. Kumar on this committee are Dr. Virendra Sharma, Dr. Kapil M. Bhagirath, Dr. Zamil Karim, Alka Goel Stevenson, Afsheen Khan, and Nawal Tandon.

There are more than 100 liver diseases caused by a variety of factors, including viruses, toxins, genetics, alcohol, and unknown causes. If left untreated, liver disease can progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer and ultimately death from liver failure.

The symptoms of liver disease are similar to that of other diseases, but sometimes there are no symptoms at all until it’s too late. Often, by the time people are diagnosed with liver disease, there is so much damage that the only option is a liver transplant – but even this is not a cure.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver disease, affecting 20% of Canadians. It affects people who drink little to no alcoholic. It is more common in people who are overweight or obese, particularly if they have a lot of fat around their waist. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, people may prevent obesity, which is the number one cause of fatty liver disease. Other risk factors include high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol and abnormal amounts of lipids in the blood.

Hep C is very common, but many people don’t know they have it. “About 65% to 75% of those with Hep C are ‘baby boomers’ who were infected multiple decades ago from unsafe blood products, unsafe medical practices, or past injection drug use… New effective and affordable treatments are available… The CLF recommends one-time screening of those born between 1945 to 1975 because being diagnosed is the gateway to being engaged into curative treatment. Many immigrants from countries where Hep C is common fit into this age category,” according to Dr. Mel Krajden, Medical Director, Medical Head Hepatitis, BC Centre for Disease Control, (CLF 2019 LIVERight Program Magazine, Vol. 6).

Alcohol-related liver diseases vary in severity. When the liver has too much alcohol to handle, normal liver function may be interrupted. If the liver is required to detoxify alcohol continuously, liver cells may be destroyed or altered resulting in fatty liver, and more seriously, alcoholic hepatitis, and/or cirrhosis.

An upcoming CLF education event, the LIVERight Health Forum, features an “Ask the Experts” opportunity and will be delivered online to be widely accessible to all interested individuals. The sessions will address liver health questions from communities across Canada. The Committee invites the South Asian Community to send in their questions for the speakers to address.  Speakers and topics are:

Dr. Eric Yoshida                               Chronic and Acute Liver Failure

Dr. Edward Tam                              Can I Die from Fatty Liver?

Charlene Chen, RD                         Cooking for Your Liver

Dr. Trana Hussaini                          Medication and Your Liver

Dr. Peter Kwan                                I am Tested Positive for Hep B and C.  Now What?

Dr. Stephen Chung                         Liver Transplant – The Surgery, Recovery and Quality of Life

Andreja Kovacevic-Cikes               Exercise and ‘Liver Fitness’

For information about the Forum dates and any additional questions please contact Monica Chui at

604-707-6433 or email mchui@liver.ca