The connection between alcohol use and health risks is well-known. A drink once in a while may not cause significant health issues. But, excessive drinking over time leads to serious health problems, including severe liver scarring and damage known as liver cirrhosis.
In this blog, Dr. Purnendu Bhowmik, a liver cancer doctor in Kolkata, explains the connection between excessive alcohol intake, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.
How Does Alcohol Cause Liver Cirrhosis?
Alcoholic liver cirrhosis develops gradually with excessive alcohol intake – about five or more drinks per day. The liver’s function is to break down alcohol. Therefore, it becomes badly damaged and scarred if a person drinks more than it can process.
When the liver tissues start to scar, it fails to work correctly and the body fails to produce enough proteins or filter toxins out of the blood.
Compared to men, women are at an increased risk of developing alcoholic liver disease. Women do not have many enzymes to break down alcohol in their stomachs. Therefore, more alcohol can reach the liver and develop scarring.
Genetic factors can also increase the chances of developing alcoholic liver cirrhosis, says Dr. Purnendu Bhowmik, a liver cirrhosis doctor in Kolkata. For instance, some people are born with a deficiency in enzymes that helps break alcohol particles. Therefore, a person suffering from such deficiency is at a higher risk of developing alcoholic liver diseases than others. Hepatitis C, obesity and a high-fat diet can also increase a person’s chances of developing liver cirrhosis.
Complications of Alcoholic Liver Cirrhosis
Alcoholic liver cirrhosis can cause severe complications, including –
- Ascites – a build-up of stomach fluid
- Encephalopathy -damage or disease that affects the brain, causing delusion and mental confusion
- Internal bleeding
The Connection Between Alcohol Abuse & Liver Cancer
According to studies, the correlation between alcohol abuse and cancer is significant and positive. The inflammation and scarring that the liver suffers due to excessive alcohol use increases the risk of liver cancer.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), excess alcohol use causes 50% of all deaths due to liver cirrhosis and 12% of liver cancer worldwide.
How to Limit the Risk of Liver Cirrhosis & Liver Cancer
According to Dr. Purnendu Bhowmik, a liver cancer doctor in Kolkata, drinking in moderation can limit a person’s risk of developing alcoholic liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Drinking in moderation means drinking up to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men.