Alcohol Consumption And The Liver
Consuming eight or more drinks of alcohol per week can affect your liver function. Bodily impairment, irregular liver function, and death are some of the consequences of acute or heavy drinking such as binge drinking. In the United States, about 8.5% of the population develops an alcohol disorder each year.
How Does Alcohol Affect Liver Health?
Your liver is specialized for metabolizing different molecules such as hormones, enzymes, and proteins. The liver also breaks down and eliminates some waste substances from the blood. Medicines, nutrients, and vitamins are also converted by the liver into substances to be used by the body. Ultimately, the liver helps in storing glycogen for energy, digestion, and cleaning your blood.
When a person drinks too much alcohol, her becomes unable to process all the alcohol. As a result, alcohol in excess remains in the blood and may affects the normal functionning of the brain.
Your liver cells start getting destroyed as a result of chronic alcohol abuse. It may lead to alcoholic hepatitis, liver cancer, and cirrhosis (1).
How Your Alcohol Copes With Alcohol Consumption?
Your liver processes most alcohol after it is absorbed in the digestive tract. During processing, alcohol is broken down into harmful substances that damage the liver. The liver will be more damaged if you drink more alcohol.
Your liver can recover from a little damage. Therefore, when liver cells are being damaged by alcohol, the liver can still continue to work. Even if the liver is 80% damaged, it can still function. Excessive alcohol abuse progresses liver damage, leading eventually to death (2).
How Much Alcohol Is Harmful?
Your risk of developing liver disease depends on how much alcohol you drink. The risk of developing liver damage varies greatly between individuals. Some people will develop liver disease after moderate consumption and others only after heavy or very heavy consumption over a long period. It is recommended not to exceed one to two glasses of alcohol per day for men. For women, it is recommended to consume no more than one glass of alcohol per day. (3).
Long And Short-Term Effects Of Alcohol Consumption:
Short term effects of excessive alcohol consumption include:
- Blackouts and memory lapses
- Upset stomach
- Breathing difficulties
Long-term effects include:
- Ulcers in the esophagus or the stomach
- Nerve damage (neuropathy)
- Liver disease
- Alcohol poisoning
- Intentional injuries
- Alcohol and the Liver – How Alcohol Damages the Liver [Internet]. Addiction Center. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.addictioncenter.com/alcohol/liver/
- Alcohol-Related Liver Disease – Liver and Gallbladder Disorders [Internet]. MSD Manual Consumer Version. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.msdmanuals.com/home/liver-and-gallbladder-disorders/alcohol-related-liver-disease/alcohol-related-liver-disease
- Liver Disease and Alcohol: Is Binge Drinking To Blame? [Internet]. Yale Medicine. [cited 2021 Jul 23]. Available from: https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/alcohol-liver