This section is from the book "The Human Body: An Elementary Text-Book Of Anatomy, Physiology, And Hygiene", by H. Newell Martin. Also available from Amazon: The Human Body.
The Liver also suffers fatty degeneration, and is one of the organs most often and earliest attacked. This we might expect, as alcohol absorbed from the stomach is carried directly to the liver by the portal vein (p. 236). Alcohol also increases the breaking down of proteid matter in the body; the liver has much to do in preparing this broken-down proteid for removal by the kidneys, and so gets overworked.
Another serious bodily deterioration produced by alcohol is fibrous degeneration : by this is meant an excessive growth of the connective-tissue, which as we have seen (p. 36) pervades the organs of the body as a fine supporting skeleton for the more essential cells. Alcohol drinking causes this tissue to develop to such an extent as to crush and destroy the cells, especially in the liver and kidneys, which it should protect. So far as the liver is concerned, the result is a shrunken, rough mass (hob-nailed liver, or gin-drinker's liver), with hardly any liver-cells left in it. This not only prevents the proper manufacture of bile and glycogen (p. 171), but the contracted liver presses on the branches of the portal vein within it (p. 234) so as to impede the drainage of blood from the organs in the abdomen. As a consequence, an excess of the watery part of the blood oozes into the peritoneal cavity and accumulates, causing abdominal dropsy (ascites).
Describe the effects of alcohol upon the liver.