Gutbliss - Dr. Robynne Chutkan


Is Your Liver Healthy?

As alcohol use has increased exponentially during the pandemic, this is a question many of us may be thinking about. In fact, a recent study found that alcohol-associated liver disease is a leading contributor to liver-associated cancer deaths worldwide.

Alcohol consumption can cause excessive fat buildup in the liver (fatty liver or hepatic steatosis), inflammation of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and liver scarring (alcohol-related cirrhosis). While the negative effects of alcohol consumption on the liver vary depending on age, gender, genetics, and medical history, there are some basic guidelines for how much is too much.

First, all types of alcohol are potentially problematic and detrimental to your health… and your liver. Wine has some phytochemicals that beer or liquor doesn’t have, but it still puts stress on your liver, gut microbiome, and overall health, and should be consumed in moderation. Based on Mayo Clinic’s guidelines, 1 drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1.5 ounces of liquor. Moderate drinking is defined as no more than 1 drink daily for women and no more than 2 for men. Women who consume 2 or more drinks daily and men who consume 3 or more daily are at a higher risk of developing liver damage.

But remember, these are just overall guidelines. The real guidance is rooted in your genetic risk, your medical history, your diet, your medicine cabinet, and your lifestyle habits. Three things you can do right now, no matter who you are, to improve your liver health include:

Limiting or avoiding alcohol.
Checking your medicine cabinet for drugs that have liver toxicity, which can put stress on your liver and worsen alcohol-related liver damage. Some of these drugs include acetaminophen (Tylenol), Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as Aleve, Motrin, and aspirin), cholesterol-lowering statins, antibiotics like Amoxicillin-Clavulanate or Erythromycin, arthritis drugs like Methotrexate or Azathioprine, antifungal drugs, steroids, Niacin, Allopurinol for gout, and some antiviral drugs.
Become familiar with the signs of liver disease and speak with your healthcare provider if you suspect your liver may be at risk.

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Dr Robynne Chutkan
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