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Alcoholic Liver Disease

for Veterans and the Public

Alcoholic liver disease

Alcoholic liver disease is a common form of liver disease in the United States. People get alcoholic liver disease by drinking large amounts of alcohol for many years. It doesn't matter whether the alcohol comes from hard liquor, beer, or wine. Any type of alcohol can cause liver damage.

One unit of an alcoholic beverage contains 10 grams of alcohol. A unit is roughly equivalent to:

  • one 12-ounce bottle of beer (5% alcohol)
  • one 4-ounce glass of wine (12% alcohol)
  • one 1-ounce shot of hard liquor (40% alcohol)

So how much alcohol is too much? It depends on whether you're a man or a woman. Studies have shown that women experience liver disease at lower levels of alcohol intake than men.

Many liver specialists would agree that liver disease is likely at these levels:

  • For women: 4 or more units of alcohol daily for at least a year
  • For men: 6 or more units of alcohol daily for at least a year

Some people will experience liver damage even if they drink much less. The good news is that the livers of heavy drinkers can improve if they stop drinking entirely.