Published On: Mon, Dec 10th, 2012

Harmful Effects of Alcohol on Liver

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Posted under Category : Health Fundas

Alcohol Facts

What is Ethanol Chemically?

Ethanol is chemically ethyl alcohol.

Excessive Consumption of Alcohol leads to Liver Damage

Complications due to Alcohol Consumption

The excessive consumption of ethanol leads to serious complications like brain damage and liver damage. Liver damage is the long term consequence of the excessive drinking of alcohol.

An alcohol abuser will eventually need alcohol rehabilitation to avoid this condition.

Alcohol Effects

English: Most significant possible long-term e...

Most significant possible long-term effects of ethanol. Sources are found in main article: Wikipedia:Ethanol#Long-term. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template_talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sequence of effects due to Ethanol consumption:

The following abnormalities occur in a sequence one after the other.

  • Increased fat accumulation (fatty liver)
  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Irreversible hepatic necrosis and fibrosis

The portal blood flow gets diverted around the fibrotic liver and it can lead to the development of oesophageal varices, which bleeds suddenly and catastrophically.
The increased accumulation of the fat in the liver occurs in rats and humans after consuming a large single dose of ethanol. This mechanism is complex and consists of main factors like:

  • The increased stress leads to the release of increased amount of fatty acids from the adipose tissue, which causes sympathetic discharge.
  • The ethanol increases the metabolic load that leads to impaired fatty acid oxidation.

What are the factors which contributes to liver damage? Alcohol Poisoning

  • Many other factors may also contribute to the liver damage with the chronic ethanol consumption.
  • One of the factor is malnutrition. The alcoholics satisfy their (calorie) requirement from the ethanol itself. 300 grams of ethanol (equivalent to a bottle of whisky) provides about 2000 kcal of energy. But the ethanol does not contain other important elements of the normal diet like vitamins, amino acids and fatty acids.
  • Thiamine deficiency is an important factor in causing chronic neurological damage.
  • The changes in the liver occuring in the alcoholics are partly due to chronic malnutrition and mainly due to cellular toxicity of ethanol, which promotes inflammatory changes in the liver.
  • The overall incidence of the chronic liver is a cumulative effect of ethanol consumption over many years.
  • Determination of the Overall Consumption to predict the incidence of Cirrhosis:
  • The overall consumption is expressed as g/kg of the body weight per day multiplied by the years of drinking. This provides an accurate prediction of the incidence of cirrhosis.
  • An increase in the plasma concentration of the liver enzyme gamma glutamyl transpeptidase provides an index of liver damage. But it is not specified to ethanol.
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