Over 170 million people around the world are thought to be infected with the hepatitis C virus. For most of these patients' lives, the infection will remain asymptomatic. However, in up to 30% of cases, chronic infection leads to serious, potentially fatal, liver disease. Interferon-alpha therapy is one of the hot new treatments for this problem.
Now researchers have shown there is a risk of severe hypertriglyceridemia in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with interferon-alpha. HDL-cholesterol and apo A1 levels also declined during therapy. These alterations persisted until the end of the therapy, and VLDL cholesterol and apo B remained increased 3 months after [interferon-alpha] withdrawal.
Am J Gastroenterol October,1998;93:1901-1904
Dr. Mercola's Comment:
Even though interferon is a "natural" treatment as the body produces it, one can run into problems when forcing it on the body. The more ideal treatment would be to change the causal factor and have the body make its own interferon which would be made in the proper concentration and for the correct amount of time.
When one exceeds the body's optimums, it is very common to develop these types of complications. In this case, the blood fat triglycerides went up and the HDL went down in a number of patients. Some of you might remember from a previous newsletter that the HDL/triglyceride ratio is one of the most potent predictors of heart disease.
So, the bottom line for many of these patient is that the interferon treatment further damages the liver disturbing its ability to optimize blood lipids. It is interesting to note that this effect persisted for many months after the treatment was discontinued suggesting a more permanent type of damage.