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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Liver Disease and Diabetes
September 2001

Q. I have two questions of most importance. What is the correlation of liver disease with diabetes mellitus and how toxic is dioxin/agent orange to the human liver? I would be very appreciative if the above questions could be answered.

A. Although people refer to diabetes as a disease affecting sugar metabolism, it is a disease with widespread effects. It causes changes in the circulation, affecting most major organs. As a result there is a higher risk for damage to the heart, kidneys, and eyes in particular, and this damage can occur at much earlier ages than would be expected from normal "aging effects". Liver disease is not a common outcome of diabetes however, so when liver problems occur in a diabetic, other causes should be investigated.

Dioxin, a potent herbicide used during the Vietnam war, has been associated with liver damage. A medical reference is listed below

HELPFUL WEBSITES:

http://www.diabetes.org/

http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/diabetes/diabetes.htm

MEDICAL ARTICLES (available through the library of a hospital or medical school):
Serum dioxin and hepatic abnormalities in veterans of operation ranch hand. Ann Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;11(5):304-11.

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