What is Alcoholic Liver Disease?
Alcoholic liver disease is the main cause of liver disease in Western nations. In Asian countries, it mostly results from viral hepatitis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2013, the number of deaths from alcoholic liver disease in the United States was 18,146, while chronic liver disease and cirrhosis overall are estimated to cause 11.5 fatalities per 100,000 people.
Why is the liver important?
Alcoholic liver disease compromises a range of essential functions.
After the brain, the liver is the most complex organ in the human body, with over 500 functions. These include:
- Making proteins to fight infection and disease
- Filtering out blood toxins
- Manufacturing hormones, proteins, and other vital chemicals
- Regulating blood cholesterol and sugar levels
- Producing proteins that enable clotting and stop bleeding following an injury
- Storing energy.
If the liver is damaged, it can affect the whole body. Once damage begins, it can take a long time to become noticeable, as the liver is generally effective at regenerating and repairing itself. Often, by the time the damage is found, it is irreversible.