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How Does Smoking Affect the Liver?

By Steven Mitchell ; Updated July 27, 2017

Functions of the Liver

The liver is basically the body's filter. The function of the liver is to process medications, alcohol, and other such chemicals and toxins and remover them from the body. Therefore, anything you put into your body will at some point, and in some form, be dealt with by the liver.

Over time, excessive drinking of alcohol, excessive smoking, or excessive drug use can severely harm your liver. Liver disease of any sort is incredibly dangerous, as the body cannot function properly without a working liver.

Smoking and the Body

Smoking is harmful to virtually every organ in your body. There are over 60 chemicals in cigarette smoke that cause cancer in the human body. These chemicals have the potential to affect and disturb all parts of the human anatomy.

One general disturbance caused by cigarette smoke is that it decreases the capacity of the red blood cells to carry oxygen to the vital organs of the body, including the liver. This prevents oxygen and nutrients in correct amounts from reaching the organs and the liver.

Smoking and the Liver

Though cigarette smoke does not directly come into contact with the liver, it does indirectly affect the liver. The chemicals in cigarette smoke eventually make their way to the liver. These chemicals cause oxidative stress on the liver, which leads to damage to the liver cells and fibrosis.

Oxidative stress is involved in the aging of all the organs of the body. Oxidation produces free radicals that damage the cells of the body. Fibrosis is the development of excess tissue during the body's attempt at repairing an organ or tissue. This is similar to scar tissue and it can adversely affect the liver.

The chemicals that are present in cigarette smoke prevent the liver from performing its main function. Over time, the liver becomes less efficient at removing the toxins from your body. This can also prevent the proper uptake of medications that you may be taking for a particular illness. If you are suffering from liver disease, smoking can hasten the further development of this disease.

The Aftermath

Even if you have been smoking heavily for many years, it would still be in your best interest to quit. Quitting smoking can reverse the harmful processes begun by cigarette smoke and prevent the further deterioration of your body.

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