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You can take several steps to reduce your risk of developing cirrhosis.

Alcohol abuse is the most common cause of cirrhosis in the US. Not all people who abuse alcohol develop cirrhosis.

Your chance of developing alcohol-related cirrhosis increases with:

  • The more you drink at each episode
  • If you drink frequently

Our liver is the target of many cancer-causing chemicals in tobacco. It is known that people with cirrhosis are at an increased risk of developing liver cancer, which is increased with smoking. Smoking also causes lung disease. This can lead to low oxygen levels in the body. People with low body oxygen have an increased risk of dying after a liver transplant.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C can be transmitted sexually. To reduce your risk of infection, practice safe sex. This means that men should always use a condom during sexual activity and intercourse. If you are a woman, you should require your partner to use a condom even if you are using birth control pills.

Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through blood products and through use of contaminated needles and syringes. Avoid using IV drugs. If you do use these drugs, do not share needles or syringes with anyone.

Ask your doctor if you should get vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Certain prescription medicines can have toxic effects on the liver that vary from person to person. If you are taking these medications, follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Be sure to have any recommended tests prior to starting the medication and throughout the course of treatment. These tests can help determine whether the drug is damaging your liver.

Once you know that you have a genetic cause of your liver disease, ask your doctor to screen your immediate family.

Obesity is a major cause of liver disease. Eating a healthy diet and getting appropriate exercise are two important steps anyone can take that will reduce the risk for chronic liver disease.


Cirrhosis. American Liver Foundation website. Available at: http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/cirrhosis. Updated December 3, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Cirrhosis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated December 27, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Cirrhosis. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/cirrhosis/index.aspx. Updated February 21, 2012. Accessed April 24, 2013.

Mehta G, Rothstein KD. Health Maintenance Issues in Cirrhosis. Med Clin N Am. 2009;93:901-915.

Last reviewed June 2013 by Marcin Chwistek, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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