Excessive drinking can severely impact a person's health. Alcohol-related liver disease or alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver is one of the most common health concerns for drinkers.
The liver is a vital organ responsible for many critical functions in the body. It is associated with more than 500 vital body functions. Among the critical functions it is responsible for, it works to clear the blood of drugs, alcohol, and other poisons. All blood that enters the stomach and intestines must also pass through the liver. The liver processes the blood, nutrients and drugs, for use by the body whether that is converting glucose to glycogen, producing special proteins for use by the body, clearing the blood of drugs and alcohol, or producing bile to help carry waste out of the body. When the liver has to work regularly to clear the blood of alcohol and other toxic substances, it can become strained and diseased. Liver disease caused by alcohol use can cause loss of liver function, illness, and death.
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If you drink daily, you can reduce your chances of liver disease by reducing the number of days you drink in a week. Alcohol free days give your liver a chance to rest from the strain of breaking down harmful substances. A recent study in Addiction (2009), posed the hypothesis that episodic binge drinking was the cause of increased liver deaths in the UK. Surprisingly, the researchers found that binge drinking was not the main culprit. Rather, “near-daily heavy drinking” particularly when started at an early age was the cause for the increase in liver disease and related deaths in the UK.
Drinking in moderation and limiting your days of alcohol consumption can significantly reduce your risks for liver disease as well as other chronic diseases induced by alcohol. The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, defines moderate alcohol consumption as one drink or less per day for women and two drinks or less per day for men. A drink is defined as one 12 ounce beer, one 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 fluid ounces of spirits (80 proof).
Cirrhosis of the liver is a debilitating health condition and the damage caused cannot be reversed. However, early treatment can stop or delay further damage. If you have been diagnosed with liver disease, it is important that you stop drinking. If you have trouble abstaining from alcohol you should seek medical help from an experienced drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.