Liver cancer is the third most deadly cancer in the world, and a range of conditions such as obesity and illnesses such as hepatitis can cause it. Alcohol consumption also contributes to liver cancer, in addition to other types of cancers, such as mouth, throat, colon, and breast cancer. Here is why prolonged heavy drinking damages the liver, and how stopping alcohol abuse can immediately reverse these effects.
Your Liver’s Vital Functions
The liver is a large organ that performs several essential functions in the human body. The foods and liquids that we eat and drink become nutrients and stored energy — we are what we eat largely because of what happens in the liver. In addition to turning food and drink into fuel, the liver also removes toxins from the bloodstream. The liver helps the blood clot following injury and creates bile, which helps the gut absorb nutrients. When the liver becomes overwhelmed, it cannot make and store energy — and remove toxins — as quickly as it should, resulting in serious illness. In addition, liver cancer is sometimes fatal.
How Alcohol Damages the Liver
Long-term heavy alcohol abuse destroys the cells in the liver. It does not matter what type of alcohol is consumed; wine and beer are as damaging as liquor. As the liver becomes weaker, it is less able to process the nutrients and toxins in your body. Most heavy drinkers, according to the Liver Foundation, have fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease, marked by extra fat buildup in the liver, has no symptoms and is the earliest indicator that heavy drinking is a problem. Left unchecked, fatty liver disease can damage the liver and cause it to swell (alcoholic hepatitis). It can also progress to cirrhosis (scarring), and ultimately, liver cancer.
The Symptoms of Liver Disease and Cancer
Although fatty liver disease produces no symptoms, both cirrhosis and alcoholic hepatitis cause serious complications that can result in death. In addition to liver cancer, these complications include kidney failure, coma, high blood pressure, bleeding in the stomach and esophagus, and more. Sometimes, liver disease can result in the need for a liver transplant; however, a person who drinks too much alcohol is not considered a viable liver transplant candidate.
Preventing Liver Disease and Cancer
More than half of people who suffer from liver cancer abuse or abused alcohol, according to the American Cancer Society and others. You can stop the development of fatty liver disease and prevent more serious illnesses — including liver cancer — by quitting drinking with the help of an alcohol abuse detox.