However, it's important to understand that while drinking too much alcohol is a risk factor in cirrhosis-related liver damage, it's not the only cause. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition where the liver stores too much fat in its cells, is, in fact, the most common form of liver disease. In the U.S., up to 100 million people have NAFLD, leaving them prone to life-threatening conditions such as late-stage liver failure and cirrhosis.
For a lot of people, liver cirrhosis is a condition usually seen in long-term heavy drinkers. What's worse is that cirrhosis does not usually exhibit signs or symptoms until liver damage is extensive.
It's also worth noting that the condition doesn't happen overnight. Each time that the liver is injured -- whether by disease, excessive alcohol consumption, or fat cells that become toxins -- it will try to repair itself. This, in turn, can lead to scarring in the liver -- a condition known as fibrosis. As the liver is injured and tries to heal itself, more scar tissue forms, which can impair normal liver function. Cirrhosis, in its advanced stages, is life-threatening.
"Cirrhosis is an advanced stage of liver scarring that begins to disrupt normal blood flow and function of the liver," explained Dr. Scott Friedman, the chief of the division of liver diseases at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in an interview with U.S. News. "It's the last stage of a progression of scarring that can occur over many years."
People who are overweight are also at risk of getting NAFLD, which can lead to advanced liver scarring. Other risk factors include:
People with chronic hepatitis may not develop cirrhosis, but it is still the leading cause of liver disease worldwide.
It has to be said: Following a healthy lifestyle and eating the right foods are the most important steps in preventing cirrhosis, as well as other types of liver disease. Here are just some ways to do it:
Learn more about cirrhosis and how it affects the body at LiverDamage.news.