Poor lifestyle choices may lead to liver damage.
The liver is an important organ.
A very important organ, it turns out.
After blood exits the digestive tract, it is filtered through the liver.
One significant role is to metabolize and remove toxins.
This protects the rest of the body.
According to a recent AARP article titled “Gauge Your Risk of Liver Damage,” liver disease in on the rise in the United States.
Certain lifestyle choices place individuals at a higher risk of damaging their livers.
What are some of these risk factors?
At a certain level, the body struggles to metabolize alcohol properly and can become overwhelmed by excessive consumption.
Unfortunately, many people are either unaware of the safe limits of alcohol or simply disregard them.
For women, a maximum of one alcoholic beverage should be consumed a day.
This means females should only have seven serving sizes of alcohol in a week.
As a general guideline, men may be able to consume a maximum or two drinks a day or 14 drinks spread out over a week.
According to Anurag Maheshwari, M.D., a gastroenterologist with the Institute for Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, the liver is unable to properly metabolize alcohol in excess of these limits.
What happens when this occurs?
The alcohol will be stored as fat.
This is known as steatosis and can impede liver function and cause death of cells in the liver.
A Fatty Liver
Although alcohol contributes to liver damage, fat development in the liver is not always a result of alcohol.
The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is on the rise.
This occurs when there is too much fat stored in the liver.
Common risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.
As a result of the fat deposits and growth, the liver becomes inflamed and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) leads to damage and death of liver cells.
Drugs & Supplements
Medications and supplements can also affect your liver when consumed in excess.
A common over-the-counter pain reliever medication known to affect the liver when taken too frequently or at too high a dose is acetaminophen or Tylenol.
Generally, those who only take it according to its recommended dosages do not experience issues.
Antibiotics have also been known to cause liver damage.
Specifically, Augmentin can be a problem.
This drug is a combination of clavulanate and amoxicillin and is used in the treatment of common bacterial infections in the sinus or urinary tract.
Hepatitis B and C are viral infections of the liver.
Liver damage and cancer are possible consequences.
Hepatitis B (HBV) is often transmitted through semen, blood, or other bodily fluids as well as from the sharing of razors or needles with an infected individual.
Hepatitis C (HCV) also can be contracted through contact with the blood of an infected individual or sharing of drug paraphernalia.
Those who received a blood transfusion or a transplanted organ prior to 1992 may have been infected through the donation of an infected individual.
In 1992, screening for this virus was implemented in protocols.
Of those infected with HCV, more than 50 percent will develop a chronic infection and upwards of 25 percent will develop cirrhosis within 10 to 20 years.
Although there are often factors outside of your control, you can help prevent liver damage through making wise and informed lifestyle choices.
Reference: AARP (Nov. 9, 2021) “Gauge Your Risk of Liver Damage”