Does Smoking Affect Your Liver?

Smoking is the largest single cause of preventable death and illness in the U.S., killing more than 480,000 Americans each year.

Cigarettes emit over 4000 harmful chemicals that can adversely affect almost every organ in the body. Smoking has been overlooked as a risk factor for liver disease for decades now.

In this article, you will find all the information you need to know about smoking and how it impacts your body. Smoke impacts your organs in so many ways, and that’s why you need to be aware of these points.

Who Is Considered A Heavy Or A Light Smoker?

As a rule of thumb, someone who smokes less than 10 cigarettes per day is referred to as a light smoker. The definition of a heavy smoker is one who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day or more. 

A typical smoker, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. A doctor will sometimes refer to a smoker’s pack year as a description of how long and how much he or she has smoked over extended periods of time.

How Does Smoking Affect The Liver?

The liver is adversely affected by smoking in three ways: directly and indirectly, immunologically, and oncogenically.

Indirect Toxic Effects 

Heavy smokers have higher levels of carbon monoxide in their blood than non-smokers. Smoking also causes RBCs to lose some of their ability to carry oxygen around the body. 

This leads to less oxygen being delivered to the whole body. The extra oxygen that is left over ends up increasing the amount of iron inside the body, iron that eventually builds up in the liver, potentially causing severe damage.

Smokers are more likely to develop lung cancer because of this problem. Prickly heat, dry skin, and numbness of the hands and feet are common symptoms of smokers’ polycythemia. This disease is caused by smoking more than 40 cigarettes per day or using water pipes. 

Flushing in your face is another side effect. It’s caused by the dilation of blood vessels in your skin, allowing more blood to flood into the affected areas, amounting to an excessively ruddy complexion.

You might also feel tired or dizzy after smoking. Smoking makes your heart beat faster, causing your blood pressure to rise.

Your system produces extra red blood cells, which means there are more blood cells circulating around your body. This could cause problems with, not just your liver, but your brain, kidneys, and other organs, too.

Smoking’s Immunological Effects

In addition to affecting cellular immunity, smoking affects humoral immunity.

Nicotine stops lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation and suppresses antibody-producing lymphocytes by blocking antigen-independent signaling in T-cells and by inhibiting ribonucleotide reductase. 

Furthermore, smoking increases the expression of a death receptor called Fas (CD95) on lymphocytes, which allows them to be killed by cells that express a surface molecule called Fas ligand (FasL). 

Smoking causes elevation of CD8+ cytotoxic lymphocytes, decreases CD4+ cells, impairs NK cell activity, and increases the production of inflammatory cytokines. 

Although smoking has long-lasting adverse effects, cessation of smoking can go a long way in reversing these effects.

It will elevate NK cell activity which is detectable within 1 month of smoking cessation, elevate both antibodies and cell-mediated immunity, decrease inflammation-inducing cytokines, and boost antioxidant activity.

Covid-19, Smoking, And Liver Disease  

Alcohol and other toxins are normally removed from your blood by the liver, but smoking inhibits this process. It may be difficult for the liver to properly process both toxins and medications if it isn’t working correctly.

Studies have demonstrated that excessive drinking combined with smoking exacerbates liver disease.

SARS-CoV2 has variable clinical symptoms (ranging from asymptomatic to ARDS and death), and elevates liver enzymes in about 75% of the cases. Clinically significant liver injury is uncommon, even in the worst cases.

However, there are some case reports of acute liver failures, probably related to multi organ failure in the setting of severe inflammatory response syndrome.

Postulated mechanisms for the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on liver enzymes include direct toxic effects of the virus itself, liver ischemia, a dysregulated immune response and cytokine storm, and altered iron metabolism secondary to macrophage activation and coagulopathy.

Frequency Asked Questions

What Is Colon Cancer Screening?

Routine screenings, such as a colonoscopy, can identify small, precancerous growths called polyps in the lining of the colon. They can then be dealt with before the growths become cancerous.

What Is The Sphincter Valve And What Does It Have To Do With Smoking?

This is a muscular valve that keeps fluids in your stomach. Esophageal sphincter protects the esophagus from acids. Fluids are kept in your stomach by this muscular valve. The sphincter is weakened by smoking.

As a result of smoking, stomach acid can also flow backward into the esophagus.

What Are The Effects Of Smoking On The Liver?

Smoking limits your liver’s ability to remove these toxins from your body.

What Are The Health Effects Of Smoking?

Smokers are more likely to develop peptic ulcers. A smoker’s lungs are adversely affected by smoking, which causes physical limitations and might preclude liver transplantation. 

Smoking after liver transplantation is associated with several adverse outcomes, including increased chances of de novo malignancy, vascular complications, and nongraft-associated deaths.

A good example of the complex interaction between the lungs and liver can be found in the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus disease in 2019. 

Can You Quit Smoking If You Have Liver Disease?

Doctors typically recommend cigarette smoking cessation along with other lifestyle changes to patients with liver disease when initially diagnosed. But this kind of advice is difficult to comply with for somebody who is a committed smoker.

It’s best to give up smoking as soon as possible to prevent such a diagnosis in the first place.

Do Smokers Have Liver Inflammation?

Compared to nonsmokers, current and former smokers have more liver inflammation and scarring. The finding could not be explained by other factors, such as concurrent alcohol use.

Can Liver Damage Be Reversed?

One of the most vital organs in the body is the liver. The liver is essential to life. A variety of functions are carried out by the liver. By regenerating healthy liver tissue, the liver can repair some liver damage, but severe scarring, such as cirrhosis, cannot be repaired.

Final Thoughts 

In spite of the fact that cigarettes do not directly contact the liver, they do indirectly affect it via the act of smoking. Eventually, the chemicals found in cigarette smoke will find their way into the liver and cause damage.

In addition to causing oxidative stress on the liver, these chemicals may also cause liver fibrosis and have a negative impact on liver cells.

As a result of this article, you should now understand the consequences smoking can have on your liver. We have discussed the deeper meanings behind how the liver becomes affected and the impact that this has on the body as a whole.

If you’re trying to quit but are finding it difficult, we recommend searching for support groups online and locally.

You’ll be surprised how much stronger you’ll feel tackling your addiction as part of a group rather than going it alone. Quitting may be hard, but it’ll be the single best decision you ever make.

Jonie Dean
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