Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

The liver is vital of an of the body and keeping it healthy is crucial. It functions continuously to remove toxins from the body. Additionally, it also provides the necessary chemical that helps in breaking the fat content, production of bile, and vitamin A and B. Improper functioning of the organ leads to a diminished health condition. Creating a fine balance between liver and alcohol consumption is necessary. Understanding how alcohol affects the functionality of the organ is essential.

Effect of Alcohol on Men and Women

The digestion of alcohol is different in men and women. Dehydrogenase, the enzyme that is capable of breaking the alcohol content, is high in men when compared with that of women. After consumption of the alcohol, the liquid reaches the liver where the cells release the enzymes that help in processing and digestion of alcohol. It is particularly after this method that the leftover alcohol enters the bloodstream and the individual begins to feel the effect of the alcohol.

Processing of Alcohol by the Body

As alcohol is harmful to the liver, during the processing stage, it causes damage to the enzymes produced by the liver that are helpful in breaking the components of alcohol. The damage to the enzyme causes cell death. During this period, the production of enzymes decreases until the liver heals.

Can a Damaged Liver Heal Itself?

The fascinating factor about liver is its ability to self-heal, which is similar to that of the skin. For instance, if there is a cut on the skin, it eventually heals slowly during which new cells replace the damaged cells, which can leave a scar behind. The same procedure happens to the liver. Due to the death of the cells, the organ develops scar tissue. Such a process is known as liver cirrhosis.

Excessive alcohol abuse can lead to a continuation of the scarring over the period, that makes it difficult for the liver to self-heal and function properly. It is possible for the liver to self-heal with limited scarring due to alcohol. The healing procedure begins within a few days or weeks after stopping alcohol. However, if the damage is severe, the healing takes at least a few months before the liver begins the self-heal process. In a few circumstances, if the damage was for an extended period, it is not possible for the liver to self-heal. In simple words, it is irreversible.

How Much Is Too Much?

Being a teetotaler does not harm the functionality of the liver. However, possessing knowledge about the quantity that you can intake will be helpful in preventing damage to the organ. Apart from this, it is also necessary to have this knowledge, as you will be mixing several drinks and consuming more than the recommended quantity. In such cases, one may think he or she is consuming only a single drink, but it can be three of four.

A single portion of alcohol is equal to 12 ounces of beer, two ounces of hard liquor, and 6 ounces of wine. In simple words, moderate alcohol consumption is not harmful to the functionality of the liver. Men should restrict to 2 drinks per day and women should limit to one drink per day. It is the acceptable level, and you do not have to worry about long-term damage.

It is necessary for you to seek medical counseling or assessment if you are a heavy drinker. The evaluation will provide the insight into the health of the liver and the steps that you need to take to prevent further damage to the organ.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 18, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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