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A Good Balanced Nutritional Diet Can Help Your Liver
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Below are a collection of some articles &
off the internet that we think may be helpful for you.
How does the use of alcohol damage the liver?
Heavy and chronic drinking cause the liver to become fatty and this fat
infiltration chokes off the supply of blood that delivers oxygen and other
nutrients to liver cells causing them to eventually die. They are replaced with
connective or scar tissue and this is called cirrhosis. This results in a
drinker's reduced ability to tolerate the drug because there are progressively
fewer liver cells to metabolize it. Genetic make-up plays a big role in one's
susceptibility to this condition. Some alcohol users develop symptoms of
cirrhosis after just a few years of consuming 3-4 drinks a day, while other
heavy drinkers never suffer from this potential killer.
The liver performs so many vital functions that we cannot live without it.
It is the largest single organ in the body and it handles the majority of the
blood that flows from the intestinal tract back to the heart; stores glycogen,
the body's storage form of sugar for energy; and breaks down toxic compounds
that occur with the body's metabolism It is very important to "take care of
Warning signs of cirrhosis include jaundice (yellowing of the skin and
whites of the eyes) and the back-up of fluid in the abdomen and lower
extremities. At university health services, physicians have seen cirrhosis in
men as young as 19-20 who started drinking heavily in their early teens. Here
are some healthy drinking guidelines designed to reduce alcohol-related
1) know that if your family has a history of alcohol and other drug use,
you may be more susceptible to abuse;
2) limit your alcohol intake to no more than two drinks per day; and,
3) drink for positive reasons like a celebration, instead of relying on
alcohol to relieve stress and depression.
The National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information [(301)-468-2600]
has free information and resources about alcohol-related health topics including
disease and abuse prevention.
More Information About Alcoholism & Alcohol
He knew the only way to save his life was to quit drinking,
but he just couldn't stop, no matter how he tried.
His name was Bobby. He wasn't my best friend; he was more like
everybody's best friend. Everybody enjoyed his company, his sense of humor and
his incessant teasing. I don't remember anyone who disliked Bobby. He was one of
those people that you immediately felt comfortable around.
Everybody loved Bobby.
I don't ever remember seeing Bobby drunk, but I never saw him
sober either. You know what I mean: he could drink all day and you could never
tell it by the way he looked, acted or talked. I suppose that was because he
drank constantly. Nobody could tell the difference.
On the way to work in the mornings, he would pull into the
backyard of one of his friends, pop the trunk, get his bottle of whiskey and
take a long swig right out of the bottle. He'd get back into the car and drive
off to work. Every morning.
That's when he was still able to work. When he began having
health problems, the doctor immediately diagnosed him with cirrhosis of the
liver or alcohol liver disease. They told him to quit drinking or he was going
God knows he tried to quit. He tried to work the 12-step
program again and again, and saw the inside of more than one alcohol treatment
center. After 28 days of no alcohol, a balanced diet, and megadoses of vitamins,
Bobby would feel a lot better. He'd celebrate by having a drink -- the minute he
Later came the medical hospitals. When jaundice set in he was
forced into having a complete blood transfusion, which helped for a while. Six
weeks later, Bobby would be back needing another transfusion.
After his second trip to the hospital and second transfusion,
Bobby came to me looking for work. He'd been fired from every auto dealership
and mobile home lot in town at least once and had few options. Since he swore to
me he was not drinking and because, with his great personality he was a great
salesman, I got him a position in our sales department. He seemed to be doing a
One morning a few weeks later I was at work before anyone
else. I was upstairs in the break room fixing a pot of decaf and glanced out the
window to see Bobby pull into the back alley parking area. He got out of the
car, popped the trunk, got his bottle and turned it up.
Nothing had changed. He was just trying to hide it now, even
from his oldest friends.
The last time I saw Bobby he was in the hospital again. His
skin was completely yellow and his eyes were sunken into his head. "Bobby,
you need to hurry up and get out of this place, I want to go fishing!" I
told my friend of more than 30 years. Then I placed my hand on his weary head
and told him I loved him and God loved him too. I knew I was saying goodbye.
When I left the room I called all of his old friends: "If
you want to see Bobby again, you better get on over to the hospital.
Quickly." Most of them were able to get there in time.
We buried him four days later. He was in his mid-40s.
Survivors included a four-year-old daughter.
Bobby was one of the 10-15 percent of drinkers whose livers
cannot process alcohol properly. Or perhaps there was just too much alcohol for
far too long. An estimated 25,000 people a year die as a result of alcohol liver
Alcohol abuse can cause a condition called "fatty
liver" or another called "alcohol hepatitis" -- both of which can
be treated, but only if alcohol consumption is stopped. If drinking continues,
these conditions will cause cirrhosis of the liver.
What happens is the liver begins to harden. Scar tissue
develops in the body's largest organ which hinders its ability to filter blood.
When the scar tissue develops to a certain point, the liver can no longer do its
The problem is the liver performs more than 1,500 functions
for the body, including more than 300 life-saving procedures. If the liver stops
doing its job, all kinds of health problems develop quickly and death can come
The liver detoxifies poisons, both those produced by the body
and those from outside; filters bacteria from the blood; regulates fat
metabolism; stores and manufactures vitamins; regulates and manufactures
cholesterol and fats; synthesizes proteins; maintains the body's water and salt
balance; secretes bile for the digestion of fat; stores energy (in the form of
glycogen); helps regulate overall body metabolism; transforms the highly toxic
ammonia (produced by exercise and by metabolism of proteins) into urea which is
eliminated in the urine; manufactures lipoproteins for fat and cholesterol
transport; and metabolizes alcohol.
If the liver stops doing any of these jobs, or numerous others
it does constantly, the result is fatal.
Here is more information about the liver and alcohol liver
The story of the last days of Willie Duncan from a medical point of view.
factors for premature death in alcoholics
Years of heavy drinking put alcoholics at risk for a host of health problems
ranging from poor nutrition to heart disease and cirrhosis of the liver.
C - Beneficial Effects
It has been used to treat everything from poison ivy to cirrhosis of the
Long-term alcohol abuse can bring about a myriad of other health problems.
Alcoholic Liver Disease
By Howard J. Worman, M. D.
Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality
throughout the world. It is estimated that in the United States as many as 10 %
of men and 3 % of women may suffer from persistent problems related to the use
of alcohol. The Fourth Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) published by the American Psychiatric Association
divides alcohol use disorders into "alcohol dependence" and
"alcohol abuse." Alcohol dependence is indicated by evidence of
tolerance and/or symptoms of withdrawal such as delirium tremens (DTs) or
alcohol withdrawal seizures (rum fits) upon cessation of drinking. Alcohol abuse
is characterized by recurrent performance problems at school or on the job that
result either from the after effects of drinking alcohol or from intoxication on
the job or at school. In addition, patients with alcohol abuse disorders may use
alcohol in physically adverse circumstances (e.g. while driving) and may miss
work or school or neglect child care or household responsibilities because of
alcohol use. Legal difficulties related to alcohol use are also common. Patients
with alcohol abuse disorders often continue to consume alcohol despite the
knowledge that continued consumption poses significant social or interpersonal
problems for them. People with alcohol use disorders often consume alcohol
despite knowing that they suffer from alcohol-related medical problems such as
Alcohol affects many organ systems of the body, but perhaps
most notably affected are the central nervous system and the liver. Almost all
ingested alcohol is metabolized in the liver and excessive alcohol use can lead
to acute and chronic liver disease. Liver cirrhosis resulting from alcohol abuse
is one of the ten leading causes of death in the United States.
From data obtained in autopsy studies, it appears that between
10 % and 15 % of alcoholics have cirrhosis at the time of death. It is unknown
why some alcoholics develop liver disease while others do not. One possibility
is that there are genetic factors that predispose some alcoholics to liver
disease. Some data also suggest that co-factors such as chronic infection with
hepatitis C virus may increase the risk of the development of cirrhosis in an
alcoholic. In general, women who drink an equal amount of alcohol are at higher
risk than men for the development of liver disease, possibly because of
decreased metabolism of alcohol in the stomach prior to absorption.
REMEMBER, LIVER DISEASE IS NOT THE ONLY LIFE-THREATENING
COMPLICATION OF ALCOHOL USE DISORDERS. ALL ALCOHOLICS MUST ABSTAIN FROM DRINKING
AS NUMEROUS OTHER ALCOHOL-RELATED MEDICAL, SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL PROBLEMS CAN
LEAD TO MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY.
Alcohol abuse generally leads to three pathologically distinct
liver diseases. In clinical practice, any or all of these three conditions can
occur together, at the same time, in the same patient. These three conditions
- Fatty Liver (Steatosis)
- Alcohol abuse can lead to the accumulation of fat within
hepatocytes, the predominant cell type in the liver. A similar condition can
also be seen in some obese people who are not alcohol abusers. Fatty liver
is reversible if the patient stops drinking, however, fatty liver can lead
to steatohepatitis. Steatohepatitis is fatty liver accompanied by
inflammation and this condition can lead to scarring of the liver and
cirrhosis. Click to see a microscopic section of a
LIVER LOBULE and an example of
LIVER in an alcoholic. (Images are part of WebPath and are copyrighted
by the Pathology Department of the University of Utah Health Sciences
Center. Link with permission of Edward C. Klatt, M. D.)
- Alcohol can cause acute and chronic hepatitis. The patient
who presents with alcoholic hepatitis is usually a chronic drinker with a
recent episode of exceptionally heavy consumption. Other presentations are
also possible. Alcoholic hepatitis can range from a mild hepatitis, with
abnormal laboratory tests being the only indication of disease, to severe
liver dysfunction with complications such as jaundice (yellow skin caused by
bilirubin retention), hepatic encephalopathy (neurological dysfunction
caused by liver failure), ascites (fluid accumulation in the abdomen),
bleeding esophageal varices (varicose veins in the esophagus), abnormal
blood clotting and coma. Histologically, alcoholic hepatitis has a
characteristic appearance with ballooning degeneration of hepatocytes,
inflammation with neutrophils and sometimes Mallory bodies (abnormal
aggregations of cellular intermediate filament proteins). Click to see a
microscopic section of a
LIVER LOBULE and an example of a liver with
HEPATITIS. (Images are part of WebPath and are copyrighted by the
Pathology Department of the University of Utah Health Sciences Center. Link
with permission of Edward C. Klatt, M. D.) Alcoholic hepatitis is reversible
if the patient stops drinking, but it usually takes several months to
resolve. Alcoholic hepatitis can lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis, and
very frequently occurs in alcoholics who already have cirrhosis of the
- Cirrhosis is characterized anatomically by widespread
nodules in the liver combined with fibrosis. In the United States, alcohol
abuse is the leading cause of liver cirrhosis. Anatomically, alcoholic
cirrhosis is almost always micronodular (i.e. the regenerating liver nodules
are small). You can click to see a microscopic section of a liver with
CIRRHOSIS AND FATTY LIVER and a
SECTION for comparison. (Images are part of WebPath and are copyrighted
by the Pathology Department of the University of Utah Health Sciences
Center. Link with permission of Edward C. Klatt, M. D.) Cirrhosis can result
from many causes other than alcohol such as chronic viral hepatitis,
metabolic and biliary diseases. The co-existence of another chronic liver
disease in a patient who abuses alcohol likely increases the risk of
developing cirrhosis (eg. an alcoholic with chronic viral hepatitis C).
Alcoholic cirrhosis can occur in patients who have never had evidence of
alcoholic hepatitis. Cirrhosis can lead to end-stage liver disease. Some of
the complications of cirrhosis are jaundice, ascites, edema, bleeding
esophageal varices, blood coagulation abnormalities, coma and death. You can
click to read more about
AND ITS COMPLICATIONS.
The most important measure in the treatment of alcoholic liver
disease is to ensure the total and immediate abstinence from alcohol. This will
sometimes require admission to an in-patient medical ward for prophylactic
treatment of withdrawal symptoms such as delirium tremens and seizures.
Treatment of other associated neurological conditions may also be required.
Chronic alcohol abusers often need treatment with vitamins, especially thiamin,
to correct the deficiencies that may have resulted from chronic alcohol abuse.
Intensive medical treatment of the complications of acute alcoholic hepatitis or
cirrhosis is also sometimes necessary, as is the treatment of concurrent
infectious and/or metabolic disorders.
Once the patient is medically stable, he/she should receive
on-going treatment to ensure abstinence from alcohol. This often includes a
period of in-patient alcohol rehabilitation followed by subsequent long-term
participation in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and possibly
continuous out-patient psychiatric care. Cessation of alcohol use will reverse
fatty liver and alcoholic hepatitis. Although cirrhosis is irreversible, alcohol
abusers who stop drinking will often have a good prognosis in that progressive
liver deterioration can be avoided.
There are several sites on the Internet with information about
alcohol-related disorders and recovery programs for alcohol abusers. Here is a
list of links, some of which will also lead to other sites:
Click here to
return to Diseases of the Liver home page.
Click here to go to COLUMBIA
UNIVERSITY GASTROENTEROLOGY WEB.
Copyright, 1995, 1998, Howard J. Worman, M. D. All rights reserved. Printing
or other reproduction is prohibited without the written authorization of Howard
Alcoholic Liver Disease/Howard J. Worman, M. D./firstname.lastname@example.org