Research: Alcohol consumption at a young age can lead to significant liver damage

Research: Alcohol consumption at a young age can lead to significant liver damage

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Binge drinking is particularly dangerous for the liver

As is well known, high alcohol consumption is not healthy. However, there are forms of alcohol consumption that are particularly dangerous. The intoxicating binge drinking, which is particularly popular among young adults, can lead to severe liver damage early on, as a recent study shows.

Researchers from the Department of Medicine in California and the Sanford School of Medicine in South Dakota examined the prevalence of alcoholic fatty liver disease in adults in the United States from 2001 to 2016. The research team found that the number of serious liver diseases among young adults increased between the ages of 25 and 34. The team sees the reason for this in the so-called "binge drinking", ie the massive alcohol consumption within a short period of time. The results were presented in the specialist journal "Jama Network".

When do we start talking about binge drinking

Binge drinking is a popular drinking behavior among young adults, in which five or more alcoholic beverages are consumed within two hours. In women, consuming four or more alcoholic drinks is already part of this drinking behavior. According to the current study, this type of alcohol consumption is particularly associated with an increased risk of cirrhosis, liver cancer and premature death - even at a young age.

Why does high alcohol consumption make the liver sick?

The reason for this is that the heavy alcohol consumption in a short time leads to an increased fat content in the liver. This can develop into an alcohol-related fatty liver that provides a good basis for secondary diseases. These include, for example, inflammation of the liver, hepatitis, cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Liver damage often goes unnoticed

Deutsche Leberhilfe also warns of heavy alcohol consumption. It is particularly dangerous that liver damage remains unnoticed for a long time because the liver has no sensation of pain. Symptoms such as tiredness, loss of appetite, susceptibility to infection, jaundice, abdominal swelling, difficulty concentrating, internal bleeding or kidney failure sometimes indicate liver damage. For most people, however, the liver only becomes noticeable in the cirrhosis stage.

A fatty liver can regenerate itself

The liver has amazing regenerative powers. As long as there are no serious illnesses, fatty liver can regress. If the main cause of fatty liver is alcohol consumption, according to Deutsche Leberhilfe, six to twelve weeks of consistent abstinence from alcohol can help to make the liver fit again. In addition to alcohol, obesity and the regular use of certain medications are a common cause of fatty liver.

More interesting articles on this topic can be found here:

  • Alcohol accounts for more than one in 20 deaths worldwide
  • Already small amounts of alcohol impair memory
  • Even in small quantities - that's how dangerous alcohol is
  • Refrain from alcohol: this happens to your body after a very short time
  • Adolescent alcohol consumption is strongly influenced by parental role models
  • (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Mayo Clinic: Alcohol-related liver disease is on the rise (accessed: June 29, 2019),
  • Wong, Terrence / Dang, Katherine, Ladhani, Sanah / u .: Prevalence of Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Among Adults in the United States, 2001-2016, Jama Network, 2019,
  • Deutsche Leberhilfe e.V .: alcohol and liver (accessed: June 29, 2019),

Video: 10 Surprising Things That Happened When I Quit Drinking Alcohol (December 2022).