Alcohol is not the only reason behind liver diseases in women: 9 common reasons why it may happen

Liver diseases in women are common. But why do they happen? An expert talks about the common factors behind liver problems.
Liver diseases are common in women. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Dr Ankur Garg Updated: 25 Jul 2023, 11:11 am IST
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There are a variety of factors that contribute to liver diseases, but certain causes make women more susceptible as compared to men. While some specific lifestyle habits and genetic causes add to this risk, women are also more likely to suffer from autoimmune diseases. Hence, autoimmune-related liver inflammation and hepatitis might occur more frequently in women.

Common risk factors of liver diseases in women

There are some other causes and risk factors of fatty liver and other liver conditions in women.

1. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Although women might be at a lower risk of developing NAFLD, they are definitely more susceptible to being affected by its severity or liver fibrosis after developing it. Factors like morbid obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and a lack of prioritisation of health contribute to this condition. NAFLD is one of the leading causes of liver disease in both males and females. It is most commonly found to be associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

2. Autoimmune hepatitis

This is a chronic condition in which our body’s immune system mistakenly attacks liver cells, leading to inflammation and liver damage. Autoimmune hepatitis is more common in females than males.

Liver health in women
Your liver health needs to be in check. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. Viral hepatitis

Hepatitis virus, including hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E, can cause liver inflammation and disease. While viral hepatitis affects all genders, some studies suggest that women may be more susceptible to certain types, such as hepatitis E.

4. Alcoholic liver disease

Excessive alcohol consumption potentially leads to liver damage, inflammation, and cirrhosis. Although alcohol-related liver disease is more common in males, women may be more susceptible to alcohol-related liver damage due to differences in alcohol metabolism and body composition.

5. Drug-induced liver injury

Certain medicines and toxins can cause liver damage. Women may be at higher risk due to hormonal misbalance. Some medications, such as oral contraceptive pills, can affect liver function significantly. Some alternative medicines are also known to cause acute liver failure.

6. Pregnancy-related liver disorders

Some liver conditions are specific to pregnancy, such as Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy (ICP) and HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, and Low Platelet Count). These conditions can cause liver dysfunction and require medical attention.

Pregnancy may affect liver health
Pregnancy can affect liver health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

7. Wilson disease

This rare genetic disorder affects copper metabolism and can lead to copper build-up in the liver and other organs. Wilson disease affects both genders but may present differently in females due to hormonal influences.

8. Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)

PBC is also an autoimmune condition that primarily affects the bile ducts in the liver. It is more commonly seen in middle-aged women.

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9. Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)

PSC is a chronic liver disease characterised by inflammation and scarring of the bile ducts. It affects both genders, but men are more commonly affected.

Also read: You can reverse fatty liver by making these simple changes in your life

How to prevent fatty liver problems?

Certain lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle that is a blend of diet, exercise, and adequate sleep, can help to prevent fatty liver, but the rapid increase in its incidence is one of the major health concerns.

We have witnessed a number of cases where a minor form of fatty liver led to severe liver disease. Choose a healthy lifestyle, eat more fiber, add adequate protein to your diet and manage your stress levels. As far as women’s health is concerned, more awareness needs to be spread in this regard, especially in rural and semi-urban areas of the society. Women should be encouraged more to lead a healthy lifestyle!

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About the Author

Dr. Ankur Garg is the Head of Department and Senior Consultant, HPB Surgery & Liver Transplant, Sanar International Hospitals. He specialises in liver transplantation with over 15 years of experience. ...Read More

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