In addition to the lungs, smoking can affect the liver, linking to liver disease and liver cancer. However, quitting smoking reduces a person’s risk of developing these conditions.
This article examines the relationship between smoking and liver health, ways to quit smoking, common questions, and more.
- direct and indirect toxicity
- immunologic mechanisms
- tumor stimulation
Liver injury from toxicity is one of the primary ways smoking affects the liver.
Oxidative stress can lead to liver injury and fibrosis, where tissue thickens and scars.
At the same time, certain substances in cigarettes can stimulate tumor growth and suppress the body’s natural anti-tumor genes.
This decrease in function and immunity, paired with smoking’s tumor-promoting features, ultimately makes the liver vulnerable to disease and cancer.
Although medical professionals primarily associate NAFLD with having more weight and insulin resistance, smoking is a known risk factor.
This sets off a chain of events that produce ceramides, lipids that accumulate in the liver and can cause NAFLD progression.
Additionally, smoking may adversely affect females with NAFLD more often than males.
A 2020 population-based cohort study found cigarette smoking linked with a significant increase in all-cause deaths among women with NAFLD. Researchers did not observe an increase in men’s deaths.
NAFLD is not the only type of liver disease smoking affects, however.
Tar, vinyl chloride, nitrosamines, and 4-aminobiphenyl, for example, are chemicals in cigarette smoke that link with hepatocellular carcinoma.
The authors noted the exact mechanisms underlying liver cancer from smoking are complex, but they linked tobacco use with an elevated risk of liver cancer.
As relatively new products arise on the market, research into the effects of e-cigarettes on liver health is limited.
According to the
Experts consider smoking cessation at any age better than smoking. It
It is possible to quit smoking “cold turkey,” which means without a gradual decrease in nicotine exposure. Many people require help, however, and find support through:
- national quitlines: 1-800-784-8669
- nicotine replacement therapy (e.g., gum, lozenge, inhaler, or transdermal patches)
- smartphone apps
- support groups
quit smoking counselors
Self-care strategies, like the following, can assist formal programs:
- writing an organized “quit plan”
- staying busy with hobbies, recreation, and wellness activities
- avoiding events, places, and people that may trigger the urge to smoke
- cultivating stress management practices
- getting support for depression and other mental health conditions
Below are some common questions about smoking and liver health.
What does smoking do to the liver?
Smoking affects the liver directly and indirectly through toxin exposure.
It promotes fibrosis, fat accumulation, immunity suppression, and tumor growth.
Can I smoke if I have fatty liver disease?
Smoking can make non-alcoholic fatty liver disease worse. Experts do not recommend smoking with this diagnosis.
Does smoking cause liver enzymes to go up?
Smoking can cause an increase in liver enzymes.
Liver enzymes are markers of liver health. When levels are high, it can be a sign of smoking-related loss of liver function.
Cigarette smoking can increase the risk of liver disease and liver cancer.
Cigarettes expose the body to toxins, and nicotine may boost the production of lipids that contribute to NAFLD.
Smoking cessation can help improve liver cancer and disease risk.