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Is All That Booze Damaging Your Liver?

A new color-coded blood test more easily detects diseases caused by alcohol damage.

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If you drink, your liver works hard to process all that alcohol. But how do you know when it's had too much?

Until now, primary care doctors have had a hard time detecting alcohol-related liver damage, such as cirrhosis—or scarring of the liver tissue—early on. Even worse, by the time people end up in the hospital with liver disease, one-third will have less than a few months to live.

But a new traffic-light blood test developed by researchers in the U.K. could change that. The test gives an early color-coded warning, which could warn heavy drinkers of potential liver damage and encourage them to cut back before it’s too late:

  • Green means no liver damage.
  • Amber indicates a 50:50 chance of scarring.
  • Red means that the liver is most likely irreversibly damaged.

The test has not yet been rolled out in the U.S., but if you are worried about the effects of drinking on your liver, talk to your doctor.

You can also limit your drinking to no more than two drinks a day, and give your liver two to three days off from alcohol a week. After all your liver has done for you, it deserves a break.

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