Diet and Nutrition

How Alcohol Abuse Can Influence Liver Cancer

How Alcohol Abuse Can Influence Liver Cancer

Alcohol, what really is alcohol? From the scientific point of view, it is an organic compound. In this case, we look at it as a beverage made through the process of sugar fermentation. Alcohol can be highly intoxicating. Alcohol abuse entails the recurrent and harmful usage of alcohol.

Alcohol abuse is a common term that implies an excessive alcohol intake, which results in health problems. Medically, people are said to be abusing alcohol if they take a large amount of alcohol for a long period of time, and they experience difficulties in stopping the habit. In addition, they tend to spend a great deal of their time in alcohol-related activities be it drinking or buying alcoholic drinks.

Furthermore, these people have a strong desire for alcohol. However, their excessive drinking will result in health complications, social problems, and withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut the habit. Individuals who abuse alcohol often practice dangerous behavior, which may cause both personal and interpersonal harm. Such acts include drunk driving, among others.

Alcohol abuse is a form of alcohol intake that may cause harm to a person’s health. This abuse may also negatively influence a person's relationship with others. Alcohol abuse may also reflect in the person's workplace.

Classification of Alcohol Abuse

There are two classifications of alcohol abuse. One classification is the people who tend to develop an anti-social behavior and like seeking pleasure by abusing alcohol. The other classification is the individuals who do not feel the urge to take alcohol, but when they do, they continue abusing it uncontrollably.

The excessive consumption of alcohol, although for a short period of time, may also be considered as a classification of alcohol abuse.

The Effects of Alcohol Abuse

The side effects experienced in the organ system may serve as a sign of alcohol abuse. However, some effects that are related to alcohol abuse may be present to an individual who does not abuse alcohol. This abuse greatly affects the central nervous system, resulting in poor judgment and insomnia.

One of the important organs in the body, which is affected by the abuse of alcohol is the liver. It may cause elevated liver function tests. Extended alcohol use may lead to cirrhosis of the liver and eventually liver failure. Typically, individuals with liver cirrhosis are not able to process toxins and some hormones. This inability to process toxins may result in the development of liver diseases such as "hepatic encephalopathy." 

Another vital body organ that is affected by alcohol abuse is the brain. The brain is connected to all of the organs in the body. It controls all body organs including the liver. If the brain is affected, doing simple tasks become difficult and may cause the development of certain disorders. Cancer is a well-known disorder for that matter.

Alcohol has neurotoxic effects on the brain that cause an impairment of social skills among people with alcoholism. People who abuse alcohol have a reduced immunity. Their ability to survive critical conditions is considerably lower compared with non-abusers of alcohol.

About Liver Cancer

All vertebrates have a liver, which is described as an organ or a gland located in the abdominal region that has a series of functions. It is a very vital organ since it plays a role in food digestion and storage. It is also the organ that detoxifies, thus, filtering toxins that are harmful to the body.

The liver is affected by several disorders, which may include hepatitis A, B, or C, as well as hemochromatosis, which is an inherited disorder. Cirrhosis is also an illness that occurs in the liver, which is characterized by the formation of scars in the liver. A common sign of liver disease is when the skin turns yellow. This skin discoloration is also known as jaundice. Cancer can also affect the liver. The abnormal growth of cells forms the health illness called cancer. 

Liver metastasis is the term used to refer to the process through which cancer moves from other parts of the body to the liver. It is often how liver cancer sets in the liver. However, cancer can also start in the liver. The liver consists mainly of cells that are known as "hepatocytes," although some are also made up of other cells. These cells can form several types of tumors, which may either be cancerous or non-cancerous. The tumors have different causes, distinctions, and are also treated in different ways. 

Non-cancerous tumors may grow large to the point that they can cause health problems. However, they are not known to grow into adjacent tissues or spread to other far away body parts. These types of tumors can be treated through surgical means. These non-cancerous liver tumors are also known as "hemangiomas" that start in vessels of the blood. Usually, people will lack symptoms and treatment is not needed. Surgical removal is only necessary when people begin to bleed.

Cancer that initially begins in the liver is called "primary cancer." There exists a form of liver cancer that begins as numerous tiny cancer nodules all over the liver. It is common in people who have liver cirrhosis. Another form of cancer begins in the cells lining the liver's blood vessels. They grow quickly and are too widespread for surgical removal. This condition necessitates chemotherapy and radiation therapy to help slow the growth of cancer cells.

Alcohol and Cancer

Most people are well aware that excessive alcohol drinking will result in the development of health complications. Most people also fail to realize that this practice raises their risk of developing cancer.

Cancers Associated with Alcohol

If there is an increased abuse of alcohol, the risk of having these cancers also increases:

Liver Cancer

When one uses alcohol for a long time, the risk of developing liver cancer is also significantly increased. The habit of taking alcohol causes damage to the liver, which often results in a patient's painful experience. The damage done by the alcohol is what increases the risk of having liver cancer. Basically, all alcoholic drinks contain the element, ethanol. These drinks range from wines, spirits, and all forms of liquor.

The amount of alcohol contained in these drinks varies since they have different ethanol percentages. A cancer risk is not linked to the amount of a certain beverage that is taken. The risk is solely determined by the amount of alcohol taken whether in the same drink or in different drinks as long as they all contain ethanol that is present in alcohol.

How the Risk of Liver Cancer Is Increased

When alcohol is taken into the body, like most substances, it is broken down in the liver. Acetaldehyde (produced as a byproduct) and oxygen radicals are then produced. These two react with complex molecules and proteins that are present in the cells resulting in hybrid compounds known as "adducts." 
These may induce a harmful immune response by impeding the function of the original proteins. The formation of adducts is regarded as the first sign of liver damage. The production of excess oxygen radicals results in an imbalance known as "oxidative stress" that may cause death to the cells.

Bottom Line

Clearly, alcohol abuse causes harm and damage to the liver. The metabolism of alcohol produces byproducts, which cause chemical alterations that can affect cell growth. These chemical imbalances basically lead to the development of liver cancer.

Key Takeaways

  • Alcohol abuse is a form of alcohol intake that may cause harm to a person’s health.
  • The excessive consumption of alcohol, although for a short period of time, may also be considered as a classification of alcohol abuse.
  • When one uses alcohol for a long time, the risk of developing liver cancer is also significantly increased.