Alcohol and Cirrhosis: It Doesn’t Take Much to Do Permanent Damage

How much alcohol is too much alcohol? That is tough to answer except to say that it is probably a lot less than you think. Just the habit of a few nightcaps, over time, could be enough to cause alcohol induced hepatitis which itself is the primary cause of cirrhosis of the liver. Cirrhosis is a serious and even life-threatening condition.

For the person suffering with cirrhosis, healthy, supple liver tissue slowly gets replaced with hard scar tissue. That scar tissue restricts blood flow in the liver and keeps it from effectively performing its chief function; that of cleaning the blood. A cirrhotic liver will make it more difficult for the body to absorb needed nutrients as well as any medications the person may be taking. When the cirrhosis is pronounced, survival rates are 50-50 at best. And while there are treatments which can extend a person’s life by compensating for the damaged liver, nothing but a new liver can ever reverse the damage done by drinking.

If you think only the heaviest drinkers ever develop cirrhosis, that is incorrect. As noted in a recent web-based health article, a couple of drinks consumed on a regular basis are enough to put you at risk for the disease – more so if you happen to be a woman. As the article points out, while it is better to choose lower alcohol content beverages when drinking, a man or woman who enjoys a glass or two of wine each evening could still be at risk. Women are particularly vulnerable just because of how they are physically designed. Having smaller internal organs than men means that less alcohol can do equal or more damage to women.

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