Ask a Doctor: Is drinking too much alcohol the cause of liver disease?

Medical doctor with a stethoscope around his neck holding

Q. I've been told I could have liver disease. Is drinking too much alcohol the main cause?

A. While most people believe that the main cause of liver disease is alcoholism, it is only the third leading cause. Controlling your consumption of alcohol is important, yet there are other factors to take into account.

The leading cause of liver disease is diabetes. Over 50% of patients with Type 2 diabetes have a fatty liver and some form of liver damage.

The second leading cause is obesity. Those with Type 2 diabetes or a body mass index over 30 have a higher risk of developing a fatty liver, and approximately a third of these patients have some form of liver damage. Most patients do not show any symptoms during the early stages of liver disease.