This might seem like a silly question but I've been searching on google and pubmed but not really gotten a clear answer to this.

I understand the long term effects of alcohol in causing alcoholic steatohepatitis. However while looking for the causes of acute liver failure, I only came across paracetamol poisoning and viral hepatitis as potential causes.

Are the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver limited to chronic abuse? Or can a person who has never indulged, potentially risk liver failure after just a single episode of excessive consumption?

1 Answer 1


Can acute liver failure be caused by an alcohol binge?


Are the harmful effects of alcohol on the liver limited to chronic abuse?

The harmful effects of alcohol on the liver are in general certainly not limited to chronic abuse.

The immediate dangers of alcohol are often as much overstated as the long time dangers from it. "Often overstated" means portrayed as such from moral crusaders that want to condemn the substance as such. That is unfounded. The liver is usually quite resilient and capable of taking quite a lot of abuse.

But consumption of alcohol is not without dangers. Also not for a single incident. Of course it depends. The question does not indicate "how much" alcohol would be involved in that hypothetical incidence. "One/Once too many" can easily kill a human. That does not necessarily include involvement of acute hepatoxicity, although it mainly is common knowledge for acute overdose.

Depending on individual genetics, nutritional status, fitness level, other health parameters, a single sufficiently large dose of alcohol can really damage a liver. Adding some drugs – like paracetamol – into the mix and the liver gets even more vulnerable.

Some overview might be found in Definition, epidemiology and magnitude of alcoholic hepatitis

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