Alcohol and Liver damage
How is alcohol linked to Liver damage?
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD), especially cirrhosis, is one of the leading causes of alcohol-related death. The liver processes alcohol and uses oxygen to do so. This process releases substances that can damage and kill your liver cells. Drinking alcohol can also cause bacteria in your gut, which may cause your immune system to attack your liver cells as it becomes harder for your body to recognise them.
Drinking heavily for as little as a few days can lead to a condition known as ‘Fatty Liver’ which can cause a variety of negative health issues. Years of regularly drinking more than the NHS recommend can lead to the development of Liver cirrhosis, which could threaten your life.
Those affected often don’t realise they’re at risk because they are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent. But drinking too many units can lead to ‘hidden harms’, which can seriously damage your health.
Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)
ALD includes three conditions: Fatty Liver, Alcoholic hepatitis and Liver cirrhosis. Fatty liver is reversible if you stop drinking, but if you continue drinking it can lead to Alcoholic hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). While this may cause symptoms in some, especially after very heavy drinking, it can also develop without showing symptoms. This means you could find yourself suffering with cirrhosis without warning, due to healthy liver cells being gradually replaced by scar tissue.
Can drinking increase the risk of Liver damage?
If you regularly drink more units of alcohol than the NHS recommend you’re much more likely to suffer from Liver cirrhosis or Liver cancer than non-drinkers. Men who are increased risk drinkers have around twice the risk of developing Liver Cirrhosis and are 1.3 times more at risk of liver cancer. Whereas increased risk women have around 1.7 times the risk of Liver cirrhosis and 1.2 times the risk of Liver Cancer. Higher risk drinkers of both sexes can be three to ten (or more) times more likely to suffer from Liver cirrhosis. (Their risk of Liver Cancer also increases.)