LIVEWELL MINUTE: How Alcohol Affects the Liver

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The liver is the second largest organ in your body. It processes what you eat and drink into energy and nutrients your body can use. The liver also removes harmful substances from your blood.

Dr. Donald Hillebrand, Center for Liver Disease, UnityPoint Health – Des Moines says, "Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells. The liver breaks down alcohol so it can be removed from your body. Your liver can become injured or seriously damaged if you drink more alcohol than it can process."

Many heavy drinkers will progress through three main types of alcohol-related liver disease; fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis, and alcoholic cirrhosis.

Treatment for alcohol-related liver disease requires a healthy diet including avoiding alcohol. Your doctor may suggest changes in your diet to help your liver recover from the alcohol-related damage. In advance cases of alcoholic cirrhosis, a liver transplant may be needed.