Risk Factors for Cirrhosis
by Alayne Ronnenberg, ScD
A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.
It is possible to develop cirrhosis with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing cirrhosis. If you have risk factors for cirrhosis, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk. Even 1-2 risk factors is reason enough talk with your doctor.
Excessive Alcohol Consumption
Increased consumption of alcohol over a long period of time puts you at a higher risk for developing cirrhosis.
Alcohol is toxic to liver cells. It also damages the liver by changing how your body breaks down food. People who have problems controlling alcohol also tend to have poor diets, which may also contribute to cirrhosis.
Cirrhosis does not develop in everyone who drinks, but most cirrhosis develops because of problem drinking.
Chronic Infection with Hepatitis B, C, or D
Some acute viral hepatitis infections become chronic, leading to liver inflammation and injury that. Over time, this can progress to cirrhosis. Common viral infections include:
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
With nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), fat cells build up in the liver and eventually lead to scarring. This type of hepatitis is associated with:
Secondary Bilary Cirrhosis
Blockage of the bile ducts causes bile to back up and damage liver tissue. In adults, this can occur with a condition called primary biliary cirrhosis, in which the bile ducts become inflamed, blocked, and scarred.
Bile ducts may also be blocked due to a disease called primary sclerosing cholangitis. It can also occur as a result of gallstones, or as a complication of gallbladder surgery if the ducts are accidentally tied off or injured. It can result from inflammation of the pancreas, called pancreatitis. In infants, blocked bile ducts may result from biliary atresia, a condition in which the bile ducts are injured or totally absent from birth.
Numerous inherited disorders interfere with the way the liver produces, processes, and stores enzymes, proteins, metals, and other substances necessary for proper functioning of the body. They include:
This is a condition in which immune cells mistake normal liver cells as invading cells and attack them.
The following factors can lead to liver damage include :
Cirrhosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at:
...(Click grey area to select URL)
Updated December 6, 2016. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis. Updated April 2014. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Cirrhosis of the liver. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated January 12, 2017. Accessed March 28, 2017.
Hepatitis B. World Health Organization website. Available at:
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Updated July 10, 2013. Accessed April 24, 2013.
Starr SP, Raines D. Cirrhosis: diagnosis, management, and prevention. Am Fam Physician. 2011;84(12):1353-1359.
2/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed...: Chang Y, Ryu S, Sung E, et al. Weight gain within the normal weight range predicts ultrasonographically detected fatty liver in healthy Korean men. Gut. 2009;58(10):1419-1425.
Last reviewed March 2017 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Last Updated: 3/15/2015
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