How Smoking Affects Liver Disease
Last updated: July 2021
The liver can fall under attack from many causes, including the hepatitis C virus as well as other forms of liver disease and elements. There also liver-damaging causes under our control - like smoking - that can be eliminated. If a patient has hepatitis C or another type of liver disease, eliminating smoking and other liver-damaging factors are important to decrease the attack on the liver.
How smoking affects the liver
Smoking is known to be a contributing factor to liver damage. The World Journal of Gastroenterology states, “Smoking induces three major adverse effects on the liver: toxic effects either direct or indirect, immunological effects and oncogenic (cancer-causing) effects.”1 Smoking is also reported to cause liver damage leading to fibrosis and cirrhosis, as well as liver cancer. Smoking, alcohol, diet, and the elimination of recreational drugs can help prevent further liver damage.
How vaping affects the liver
Many believe vaping does not have health side effects compared to smoking. Dr. Frank Leone at Penn Medicine states that there are myths about vaping causing no or low health risks. He reports that vaping increases health risks to the heart, lungs, and liver.
Regarding liver damage, Dr. Leone states, “E-cigarette aerosol contains propylene glycol. This is metabolized by the liver into propionaldehyde, which is actually related to formaldehyde,” he explains. “When propionaldehyde accumulates in the body, it increases the potential for liver damage.”2
Common liver damage causes
The following can cause liver damage:
- Hepatitis (A, B, C, D, E)
- Other types of liver disease
- Certain over-the-counter and prescription medications
- Alcohol of any type
- Smoking (direct or secondhand)
- Poor diet
Can liver damage be reversed?
The liver is one of the largest life-sustaining organs in the body. You cannot live without your liver. The liver has many functions necessary to sustain your body. The liver can repair liver damage to a point by regenerating healthy liver tissue, but it cannot regenerate from severe scarring such as cirrhosis.
Eliminate smoking and other risk factors that can be harmful to your liver. If you need help to quit smoking or vaping, talk with your doctor about a program that can help you. Give your liver a fighting chance. You are worth it!