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How does drinking alcohol affect the liver?

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Quick Answer

Alcohol may affect the liver by causing inflammation or damaging liver cells. Individuals who consume too much alcohol over a long period of time are likely to get a condition known as alcoholic liver disease, notes MedlinePlus.

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The liver plays an important role in breaking down foods into nutrients that the body can easily use for development and proper functioning. It is equally responsible for getting rid of harmful toxins from the body. The liver is considered the second largest body organ after the skin, notes the American Liver Foundation.

When individuals drink alcohol, a large amount goes through the liver. While there, chemicals used to make the beverage may react with liver cells and eventually compromise them. Strong alcoholic drinks consumed often tend to cause inflammation to the liver. These effects may interrupt the proper function of the liver and lead to scarring or cirrhosis.

A family history of alcoholic liver disease and continual drinking of alcohol are factors that increase the chances of severe damage by alcoholic liver disease. Some symptoms associated with this condition include nausea, vomiting, general body weakness and weight loss. Other symptoms are loss of appetite, painful sensation in the abdomen, increased thirst, dry mouth and swelling of the stomach.

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