If you drink alcohol regularly, your risk of developing liver lesions and cancer increases. These lesions and cancers are known as hepatic steatosis, variceal hemorrhage, and primary liver cancer, respectively. Reducing your risk of these conditions is called hepatic steatosis is a progressive, life-threatening condition that affects as many as one in four people who drink alcohol heavily over the long-term.
While it’s largely preventable, there are a number of things you can do to reduce your risk of developing hepatic steatosis, including avoiding excess alcohol, keeping your alcohol consumption to a minimum, and making other healthy lifestyle changes.
Reducing your risk of liver lesions and cancer is more difficult than drinking less alcohol. But by making a few small adjustments to your drinking habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing these conditions.
Symptoms of Lesions and Cancers
Lesions and cancers are both conditions that develop over time. They are not sudden, but rather the result of an accumulation of genetic and epigenetic changes in a specific part of the body. Because they develop gradually, they are often overlooked as the result of a single injury or illness. Some of the more common signs of liver lesions and cancers are:
- Jaundice – An indication that the liver is not functioning properly. This can be a result of a number of factors, but is most commonly caused by a build-up of toxins and excess bilirubin in the blood.
- Dark urine – A sign that the liver is not processing waste products well.
- Unexplained fatigue – A sign that the liver is struggling to process nutrients.
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain – A sign that the liver is struggling to break down and process nutrients.
Causes of Liver Lesions and Cancers
Liver tumors and liver lesions can be caused by different factors. Once you know the different causes of liver lesions and tumors, you can take steps to protect yourself from these diseases. Keep reading to discover the top five causes of liver lesions and cancers.
- Heavy Drinking
Drinking excessively is one of the most common causes of liver lesions and cancers. Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, and when the body does not have enough nutrients to properly break it down, it builds-up in the liver. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to fatty liver, which is inflammation of the liver cells. Chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis are the final stages of a fatty liver.
Obesity is another major cause of liver lesions and cancers. The excess body fat around the liver creates a larger surface area for toxins to build-up and cause a lesion or cancer. It is important to keep in mind that obesity is a symptom, not the cause, of liver lesions and cancers. The root cause is the build-up of toxins in the body as a result of poor dietary choices.
A liver infection, or hepatitis, is another common cause of liver lesions and cancers. The infection may be caused by a virus, bacteria, or Parasite. Clearing up an infection caused by a virus may take six months or more, which means the liver has to be cleared of the infection before it can start working properly again.
- Birth Defect
Birth defects are another cause of liver lesions and cancers. One in every five women will have a baby with a birth defect. These birth defects may include spina bifida, Down syndrome, or anencephaly. These are all conditions that develop during pregnancy. Usually, a woman will have no symptoms, and the only way to determine if a birth defect is present is through a blood test. Fortunately, all of these birth defects can be detected early and are treatable.
- Genetic Predisposition
Finally, we have genetic predisposition. This is the result of an inherited condition. An individual may have a gene that causes a gene to be switched on, leading to liver lesions and cancers. Several inherited conditions are related to liver lesions and cancers, including hemochromatosis, alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, and cytochrome P-450 deficiency.
Diagnosis of Lesions and Cancers
If you have any of the above symptoms, see a doctor immediately. The doctor will do a physical exam and likely take asample of your blood to test for liver diseases. They may also take a biopsy of the liver lesion or tumor. If any abnormal strands of cells are discovered during the biopsy, a tissue sample will be taken for testing.
The most common types of liver cancer are hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), malignant melanoma, Wilms tumor, and renal cell carcinoma. If a doctor suspects a liver lesion or tumor, they may perform an ultrasound and/or an MRI scan to rule out other causes. HCC is the most common type of liver cancer. It often causes vague symptoms such as upper right abdominal pain and fatigue.
Preventing liver lesions cancer
The most important step you can take to prevent liver lesions and cancers is to stop smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of many types of cancer, including liver cancer.
Read on for 5 ways to reduce your risk of liver lesions and cancer.
Drink For Your Health
Healthy lifestyle habits should be practiced by everyone, but are particularly important for people with a higher risk of developing liver disease and cancers. In addition to drinking alcohol, liver-friendly activities, such as exercising and eating a healthy diet, can help reduce your risk of developing hepatic steatosis.
Limit Your Alcohol Intake
Alcohol is a toxin, and excessive intake can damage your liver. The amount of alcohol you can drink and still be healthy varies by individual. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recommends that men shouldn’t drink more than three drinks a day and women two drinks a day.
A standard drink contains about 0.6 oz. of pure alcohol, and typical drinks sold in the United States contain between 0.3 and 0.8 oz. of pure alcohol. If you regularly drink more than the recommended amounts, you’re likely consuming more than is healthy for your body.
Additionally, people who regularly drink more than the recommended amounts are at an increased risk of developing hepatic steatosis, variceal hemorrhage, and primary liver cancer.
Eat A Healthy Diet
Healthy eating is important for everyone, but is particularly important for people with a higher risk of developing liver disease and cancers.
Limit Your Fat Intake; Fat is a primary source of energy for the body, but people who have a higher risk of developing liver disease and cancers should limit their intake of fat to less than 30 percent of their total daily calories.
Limit Your Sugar Intake; Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that the body burns as fuel, but excessive intake can lead to metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of developing liver disease and cancers.
Limit Your Protein Intake; Proteins are essential for building and maintaining muscles, but excessive intake can increase levels of hormones in the body that can promote tumor growth.
Regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing hepatic steatosis. In fact, a study found that participants who exercised regularly had less liver fat and less liver inflammation (a precursor to developing hepatic steatosis) than participants who didn’t exercise.
Smoking is harmful to your heart and lungs, but it can also cause liver damage, including cirrhosis and hepatic steatosis.
Limit The Time You Spend Drinking
Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can lead to liver disease and cancer. In fact, one study found that individuals who drank heavily for five or more years had an 86 percent increased risk of developing liver cancer compared to individuals who drank moderately.
Reduce Your Risk Of Liver Lesions And Cancer
One way to reduce your risk of liver lesions and cancer is to drink alcohol in moderation. However, if you do drink alcohol, there are a few other things you can do to reduce your risk of developing hepatic steatosis.
To reduce your risk of developing hepatic steatosis, it’s important to drink responsibly and not to drink more than the recommended amounts.
Drinking too much alcohol over a long period of time can lead to liver disease, including liver lesions and cancer. In order to decrease your risk of developing hepatic steatosis, it’s important to drink responsibly and not to drink more than the recommended amounts.
Limit your total daily alcohol consumption to less than three standard drinks per day for women and five drinks per day for men. If you regularly drink more than the recommended amounts, consider eliminating alcohol from your diet for a period of time and drinking water instead.
Another way to reduce your risk of developing liver lesions and cancer is to drink more water! Not only does water flushing your system help you to reduce the toxins that are produced by alcohol, but it also helps you to avoid consuming too much alcohol.
See A Doctor
If you have symptoms of liver disease or develop one of the conditions above, it’s important to see a doctor.
If you regularly consume more than the recommended amounts of alcohol, your liver is at an increased risk of developing fatty liver disease. If you develop signs and symptoms of fatty liver, such as fatigue, a lack of motivation, nausea, and loss of appetite, it’s important to see a doctor.
Your doctor can run a series of blood tests to determine if you have fatty liver, as well as recommend ways to reduce your risk of developing liver lesions and cancer.
In addition to seeing a doctor if you have symptoms of liver disease or develop one of the conditions above, it’s important to see a doctor if you regularly consume more than the recommended amounts of alcohol. Your doctor can run a series of blood tests to determine if you have fatty liver, as well as recommend ways to reduce your risk of developing liver lesions and cancer.