7 Unexpected Things That Can Damage Your Liver

"If I don't drink too much alcohol, my liver will not be in danger." This is a fairly common misconception that is not actually true. The liver can be damaged in many ways—here are some ways that you probably haven’t even thought about!

Dr. Inese

General practitioner

Sugar: This also includes foods and drinks that contain sugar in large quantities. Sugar is bad not only for damaging the teeth and putting on excess weight—some studies claim that it is more harmful to the liver than alcohol. Refined sugar and fructose increase the liver's pyruvic acid, which is converted to fat (triglycerides). Excess triglycerides are stored in the liver and cause obesity, the so-called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Excess weight: Another cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. People with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome are at risk for this serious disease, which can lead to cirrhosis of the liver. The good news is that NAFLD is curable and often requires weight gain.

Certain herbal preparations: Generally, herbs do not directly harm the liver—except if combined with medications. For example, St. John's wort significantly increases the activity of CYP3A4 enzymes, which are included in most drugs that treat the liver. Combined, these herbs can be harmful. Coltsfoot has an anti-inflammatory effect thanks to natural pyrrolizidine alkaloids—however, the liver does not know how to break down and remove them, so long-term use of it is dangerous. A popular herbal supplement called kava kava, which is used to relieve symptoms of menopause, has been shown to be toxic to the liver and is banned in many countries around the world. This is not the case for the US, where dietary supplements containing kava kava can be purchased.

Excess vitamin A: You should take a test before taking any vitamins, and make sure that your body really needs them. However, you should be careful with retinol (vitamin A), since an overdose can lead to a number of problems with the liver. People with existing liver problems should be very careful and control the content of this vitamin in the diet.

Paracetamol overdose: Paracetamol-based preparations are safe if taken in amounts that do not exceed your doctor’s recommendation. If you use several medicines at once, make sure that only one of them contains paracetamol, otherwise, it is very difficult to avoid overdose and liver drug damage. Paracetamol combined with alcohol is extremely harmful to the liver.

Trans fats: Sweet baked goods, cakes, sweets, junk foods, and fast food should be avoided. Frequent consumption of these foods leads to obesity and liver problems.

Beauty routines and manicures: There is a chance of catching Hepatitis C in a beauty salon or during other cosmetic services. If your beautician/manicurist/etc. did not properly sterilize the instruments following a visit to a client with hepatitis, you could easily get infected during a manicure, injections, tattooing, or other procedures where blood (and virus) could get on the needle or scissors.

17 April 2021

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