How long does it take to damage your liver from alcohol?

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According to University of Iowa Health Care, [1], the largest risk factor for liver disease from alcohol is the amount and the length of time the individual has been drinking. Males often develop complications that appear to be on a gender basis as well. Each individual is entirely different. Complication can develop after 5 to 10 years, though it more commonly it takes 20 to 30 years. Many individuals appear to never develop end stage liver disease from alcohol. This is impossible to predict ahead of time. And many other factors such as other diseases, hepatitis C, exposure to other toxins, as well as the individual’s own genetic make-up play a role.

According to MSD Manual[2], People can understand their risk of alcoholic liver disease more precisely if they know how much alcohol they are drinking. To determine how much they are drinking, they need to know the alcohol content of alcoholic beverages. Different types of beverages contain different percentages of alcohol.

  • Beers: 2 to 7% in most
  • Wines: 10 to 15% in most
  • Hard liquors: 40 to 45% in most

However, in typical servings of these different types of beverages, the amount of alcohol is similar even though the amount of liquid is very different:

  • A 12-ounce can of beer: About 1/7 to 4/5 ounce
  • A 5-ounce glass of wine: About 2/3 to 1 ounce
  • A 1 1/2-ounce shot (or typical mixed drink) of hard liquor: About 1/2 ounce

In hard liquor, the alcohol concentration is often described as proof. The proof is about twice the percentage of alcohol. For example, an 80-proof hard liquor contains 40% alcohol.

For men, risk increases if they drink more than about 1 1/2 ounces of alcohol a day (especially if they drink more than about 3 ounces) for more than 10 years. Consuming 1 1/2 ounces a day involves drinking about 3 cans of beer, 3 glasses of wine, or 3 shots of hard liquor. For cirrhosis to develop, men usually must drink more than about 3 ounces of alcohol a day for more than 10 years. Consuming 3 ounces a day involves drinking 6 cans of beer, 5 glasses of wine, or 6 shots of liquor. About half the men who drink more than 8 ounces of alcohol a day for 20 years develop cirrhosis.

Generally, the more and the longer people drink, the greater their risk of alcoholic liver disease. However, liver disease does not develop in every person who drinks heavily for a long time. Thus, other factors are involved.

According to reliable resources mentioned above it takes:

~ 3650 days, 0 hours, 0 mins, 0 secs

* The above data is an average value.

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