Liver Disease

It is well known that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage, including liver failure or cancer. The Surgeon General’s Report states that “studies have shown alcohol misuse can lead to liver problems including steatosis (fatty liver), alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.”1

The American Cancer Society also notes that, “over time, heavy drinking can cause inflammation (hepatitis) and heavy scarring (cirrhosis) in the liver. This can lead to liver failure.” They further note that “long-term alcohol use has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer. Regular, heavy alcohol use can damage the liver, leading to inflammation and scarring, which might be why it raises the risk of liver cancer.”2

Likewise, the American Liver Foundation states that “alcohol-related liver disease is caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. It is a common, but preventable, disease. Women are more likely to suffer liver damage from alcohol than men. Excessive alcohol consumption contributes to 3 types of liver disease…

  • …fatty liver, where excess fat builds up in the liver…
  • …alcoholic hepatitis, in which the liver cells become inflamed…
  • …and alcohol-related cirrhosis, in which normal liver tissue is replaced by non-living scar tissue.”3

They add: “Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of cirrhosis in the US, which in turn is linked with an increased risk of liver cancer.”4

The American Liver Foundation stresses that a key factor is the amount of alcohol consumed: 

[F]or most people, moderate drinking will not lead to alcohol-related liver disease . . . The amount of alcohol you consume is the most important risk factor for developing ALD. The risk increases with the length of time and amount of alcohol you drink. However, because many people who drink heavily or binge drink do not develop ALD, we know there are other factors that affect a person’s susceptibility. Additional risk factors that play a role in someone developing ALD include:
  • Obesity
  • Malnutrition
  • Genetic factors
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Your sex
  • Pattern of drinking
  • Chronic viral hepatitis, particularly hepatitis C.”5

Find research articles and learn more at PubMed:


  1. The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health
  2. Alcohol Use and Cancer
  3. Alcohol Related Liver Disease And Alcohol Damage – ALF (
  4. Liver Cancer Risk Factors
  5. Alcohol-Related-Liver-Disease-Brochure-2017.pdf (