This article describes the various forms of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), with particular emphasis on cirrhosis, the form of liver disease that often is most associated with alcohol abuse and about which the most information is available. Epidemiological research has evaluated the prevalence of ALD and the factors that often contribute to the disease. Although the most potent factor in ALD is the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, gender and ethnic differences also account for some important variations in rates of liver disease. Mortality rates from cirrhosis have declined in the United States and some other countries since the 1970s. A number of factors may have contributed to this decline, including increased participation in treatment for alcohol problems and Alcoholics Anonymous membership, decreases in alcohol consumption, and changes in the consumption of certain types of alcoholic beverages.
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