The liver is a very important organ that performs a variety of functions in the human body. Being a large organ, the liver can cope with small damages. If the damage is left untreated, it can worsen the condition of the liver and prevent it from functioning. Severe damage to the liver can result in liver failure and death. Some of the conditions that can lead to death from liver disease are alcoholism, liver cancer, cirrhosis, and viral hepatitis.
Prolonged use of alcohol can cause a variety of mental and physical conditions. Consumption of alcohol affects the liver and other organs. There are three stages of alcoholic liver disease. First, a fatty liver develops in heavy drinkers. Liver functions do not deteriorate at this stage and this condition can be reversed if alcohol is not consumed. The second stage is alcoholic hepatitis where the patient may develop jaundice. The effects can be reversed at this stage if further consumption of alcohol is stopped and treatment is taken. The final stage is cirrhosis of the liver, which is irreversible and severely damages the liver. As a result, functions of the liver are affected, and a person's life span is also reduced.
Liver cancer is usually a secondary development. Tumors of the lung, colon, pancreas, or stomach can spread to the liver. Tumors of the liver are either benign or malignant. Malignant, or cancerous, tumors of the liver are of two kinds – hepatoma and cholangiocarcinoma. A hepatoma is a tumor that grows in the liver and invades normal tissue. Cholangiocarcinoma is cancer of the bile duct cells. Advanced stages of liver cancer lead to death.
Scarring of normal tissue and inflammation of the liver leads to cirrhosis. It is one of the top ten diseases in the world that causes death.
Any of the following viruses can affect the liver and cause death: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis D, Hepatitis E, and Hepatitis X. Among these types A, B and C are the main types of viral hepatitis. Around 40-60% of liver disease deaths are due to hepatitis.