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Liver Disease

What are the causes of liver disease (alcohol and cirrhosis)?

The liver can be damaged in a variety of ways.

  • Cells can become inflamed, for example, hepatitis.
  • Bile flow can be obstructed, for example, cholestasis).
  • Cholesterol ortriglycerides can accumulate, for example, steatosis).
  • Blood flow to the liver may be compromised.
  • Liver tissue can be damaged by chemicals and minerals, or infiltrated by abnormal cells, like cancer cells.

Alcohol abuse

Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of liver disease in North America. Alcohol is directly toxic to liver cells and can cause liver inflammation, referred to as alcoholic hepatitis. In chronic alcohol abuse, fat accumulation occurs in liver cells affecting their ability to function.


Cirrhosis is a late-stage of liver disease. Scarring of the liver and loss of functioning liver cells cause the liver to fail. Significant amounts of liver cells need to be damaged before the hole organ fails to function.

Reviewed on 7/31/2017

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