Causes of Liver Disease

The two most common reasons a liver might have difficulty fulfilling its long list of chores are when it:

  1. tries to filter out an excessive amount of poisons.
  2. is battling a chronic liver disease.

Excessive Amount of Poisons

Although the liver has a great capacity for regeneration, constant exposure to toxic substances can cause serious – and sometimes irreversible – harm. By overloading the liver’s ability to detoxify with an excessive onslaught of toxins, adequate blood purification cannot occur. This overload causes waste to build up in the blood stream and will progressively worsen a person’s health. While each liver has its own definition of what is excessive, people imbibe, ingest, absorb and inhale poisons around the clock.

Accumulated toxins in the body place a constant drag on the immune system, setting the stage for autoimmune diseases and cancer. If any one organ is compromised, others will be affected, eventually leading to a cumulative negative effect on health. Some of the most toxic legal substances people flood their liver with are alcohol and medications.

  • Alcohol – The byproduct of alcohol metabolism, acetaldehyde is a highly toxic substance. Acetaldehyde (not the ethanol in an alcoholic beverage), is the molecule that causes impairment or drunkenness. Scientists have discovered that when acetaldehyde is bound to human liver plasma membranes, liver cells die.
  • Medications  There are over 1,000 drugs and chemicals that are capable of causing injury to the liver. The terms drug-induced liver disease, drug hepatotoxicity and drug-induced hepatitis are used to describe those instances in which a medication or chemical substance has caused injury to the liver. Probably the best known medication that can damage the liver is acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol®. However, medications used to treat insomnia, nail fungus, high cholesterol, hypertension, cancer, seizures, pain, infections and many other conditions put an excessive strain on the liver. Learn more about 29 potentially toxic drugs for Hepatitis C.

Learn about Symptoms of Liver Disease.

About the Author

Stephen Holt, MD, PhD, FACP

Stephen Holt, M.D. is a Distinguished Professor of Medicine NYCPM (Emerite) and a medical practitioner in New York State. He has published many peer-review papers in medicine and he is a best-selling author with more than twenty books in national and international distribution. He has received many awards for teaching and research. Dr. Holt is a frequent lecturer at scientific meetings and healthcare facilities throughout the world. He is a best selling author and the founder of the Holt Institute of Medicine.

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