A panel of experts has warned that the liver function panel may be a critical tool in the fight against chronic liver diseases.
A panel of expert panel on chronic liver disorders has warned of a potential “lifestyle-based” approach to improving liver function that could have “major health and financial implications” for patients.
The panel, which includes academics, scientists and public health experts, has published a report called “Liver Function Panel: The Future of Chronic Lifestyle-Based Approaches” which outlines the potential benefits and challenges for the use of the panel.
The report is based on extensive data from clinical trials of “biohacking” techniques, and includes a number of key points.
The first is the “liver-based diet”, where dieters are allowed to consume a diet that includes whole foods, minimising the consumption of processed foods and avoiding alcohol.
This is achieved through the consumption and use of herbs, spices and plant-based foods.
The second is “dietary lifestyle modification” (DMLM), where dietitians take an active role in helping people to reduce the amount of red meat, sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods they consume.
The third is “functional liver panel”, where liver function tests are carried out to determine whether people are at risk of developing certain types of liver disorders, such as liver cirrhosis.
The fourth is “exercise therapy”, where people undertake an active lifestyle in the gym, which improves the physical activity and strength and endurance of their bodies.
The last is “alternative therapies”, which aim to address other chronic liver conditions, such in the treatment of obesity.
It comes after an increasing number of experts have warned that such therapies may be counterproductive and harmful.
“It is now clear that we need to look at what is known as ‘liver function panel’ in the context of managing chronic liver dysfunction,” said Dr David Healy, from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, a US government organisation.
Healy is one of several experts who have spoken out against the idea of “functional Liver Panel” as a treatment for chronic liver and kidney disease.
“We have a number different ideas about how to use this panel, but the consensus is that the best way to reduce mortality is to address the underlying cause of liver disease,” he said.
“So what we want to do is to look for biomarkers of risk factors that might explain the difference between people who have good liver function and those who have bad liver function.”
The panel found that it was important to consider the role of diet in reducing risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity, and to understand the benefits of physical activity in helping improve the quality of life.
“In a lot of ways, the liver is like the heart,” said Healy.
“People have different needs.
So it is important to look into how to meet different needs in different ways.”
Healy added that while the panel was cautious about recommending that patients should “eat whole foods and minimise their intake of processed or refined foods”, it said that “some” of the most common liver disorders might be a result of “lack of nutrient intake”.
“The best way for people to get their [health and] financial outcomes is to eat more whole food and minimised consumption of red and processed food,” he told reporters.
Dr Sarah Tressall, who chairs the UK Liver Panel and is also an expert on chronic diseases at the University of Oxford, said that while there was no doubt that “lobotomy” was an effective treatment, she believed that the panel needed to examine the evidence for its effectiveness.
“There is a huge amount of evidence about the benefit of liver biopsies, especially in the first 12 weeks of life, and this is something that the expert panel has now done a good job of looking at,” she told reporters in London.
“But what is clear is that there is a lot more to this than just the liver.”
In the US, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has previously approved the use, and some doctors have recommended the use in patients with cirrhotic liver disease, where there is evidence that it is effective.
In Australia, the Australian Medical Association is pushing for the liver biopsy to be made mandatory.
But there are some in the US who say that the technology could not be justified, saying that it does not fully capture the true burden of chronic liver damage and that the evidence does not support it.
“I think the panel’s recommendations are too far removed from what we know to be true,” said Paul Sibley, a professor of medicine at University College London, who has studied liver disease.
Dr Tressal said that she believed the panel had come up with its recommendations “without having the relevant scientific evidence”.
“There are a lot, a lot to be said about the value of using the liver as a tool to manage chronic disease,” she said.