Liver Disease

What are the risk factors for liver disease?

  • Some liver diseases are potentially preventable and are associated with lifestyle choices. Alcohol-related liver disease is due to excessive consumption and is the most common preventable cause of liver disease.
  • Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that are most often spread through the exchange of bodily fluids (for example, unprotected sexual intercourse, sharing unsterilized drug injecting equipment, using non-sterilized equipment for tattoos or body piercing).
  • Hereditary liver disease can be passed genetically from generation to generation. Examples include Wilson's disease (copper metabolism abnormalaties) and hemochromatosis (iron overload).
  • Chemical exposure may damage the liver by irritating the liver cells resulting in inflammation (hepatitis), reducing bile flow through the liver (cholestasis) and accumulation of triglycerides (steatosis). Chemicals such as anabolic steroids, vinyl chloride, and carbon tetrachloride can cause liver cancers.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose is a common cause of liver failure. It is important to review the dosing guidelines for all over-the-counter medications and to ask for guidance from your health care professional or pharmacist as to how much may be taken safely.
  • Medications may irritate the blood vessels causing narrowing or formation blood clots (thrombosis). Birth control pills may cause hepatic vein thrombosis, especially in smokers.
Reviewed on 6/22/2012

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