Portia de Rossi reportedly checked into rehab for alcohol and drug addiction in May after an explosive fight with wife Ellen DeGeneres — but the actress, who publicly revealed her battle with anorexia in her 2010 memoir Unbearable Lightness, also has confessed to suffering from another disease.
In an interview, the 41-year-old said her body was so ravaged by her eating disorder, doctors diagnosed her with osteoporosis and cirrhosis of the liver in 2001.
“Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly,” Dr. Jake Deutsch, Medical Director and Founder of CURE Urgent Care, tells RadarOnline.com.
Dr. Deutsch, who does not treat de Rossi, says the disease is often caused by alcohol abuse or infection, but “anorexia nervosa is not a common cause of cirrhosis,” he reveals. However, “anorexia can lead to organ failure in its advanced stages. The kidney, heart and liver are all affected. In its end stages, liver shut down of anorexia nervosa is similar to cirrhosis.”
Diet drugs— which de Rossi confessed to abusing in her memoir — can also lead to cirrhosis, the doctor continues.
“One of the most toxic drugs to the liver are amphetamines, which are the primary ingredient of many diet pills,” he says. “If taken in high doses, the liver damage is similar to that of cirrhosis, and is permanent and irreversible.”
Though she says she received the diagnosis more than ten years ago, de Rossi is likely still suffering complications of the disease, Dr. Deutsch explains.
“Cirrhosis is a life-long disease that is best treated with lifestyle modification,” he says. “Avoiding toxins such as alcohol is key.“