We have heard that alcohol is directly related to liver cirrhosis, but is it true? Does this mean that a person who has never touched alcohol will not develop liver cirrhosis? We get you the facts and bust some myths as we ask Dr. (Col.) M. Bhagat, Senior Consultant in gastroenterology with Sri Balaji Action Medical Institute, to explain the links between alcoholism and liver cirrhosis.
First, what is liver cirrhosis?
Scarring of the tissue and poor functioning is the effect of liver cirrhosis. Weight loss, vomiting, yellow skin, weakness, bleeding gums are some of its symptoms. Once detected, liver cirrhosis can’t be reversed, but it can be controlled before it proceeds to damage the liver further.
Coming to the main question, is this a repercussion of alcoholism? Dr. Bhagat answers: “No, patients suffering from various other disorders can also get cirrhosis.” People with Hepatitis B and C and those who have fatty liver disease can also develop liver cirrhosis, irrespective of their relationship with alcohol.
He goes on to explain: “People who are obese, diabetic, alcoholic, have metabolic disorders, have suffered from chronic viral hepatitis and congenital liver disorders are at a greater risk of getting liver cirrhosis.”
Why are alcoholics prone to liver cirrhosis? “Alcohol is a direct hepatotoxic agent affecting metabolites and causing fatty liver, portal vein thrombosis and malnutrition. Alcoholics are also prone to chronic viral infections like Hepatitis B, C and HIV through behavioral traits.”
The bottomline is liver cirrhosis affects those with metabolic disorders. If you indulge in extreme alcohol consumption, you will be at risk of damaging your liver. Similarly, if you are very overweight, diabetic, or have other disorders, you will still be at risk of liver cirrhosis - whether you drink alcohol or not.
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
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