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What the Liver Does
Liver cells

The Liver – What It Does

Located under the ribs on the right hand side, the liver is the largest organ in the body - a woman’s weighs around 1.3 kilos and a man’s a little more. It is dark reddish-brown in colour and divided into two main areas or lobes – the right side being much larger than the left.

The liver is a vital organ - we can’t live more than a couple of days without one. It has been described as the body’s ‘factory’ since at any moment it holds more than 10 per cent of our total blood supply (about one pint) and performs some 500 different functions including:

  • Cleaning the blood by helping to remove or process waste products and toxins including alcohol and poisons
  • Stopping cuts bleeding for a long time
  • Producing quick energy
  • Helping with the digestion of food by the production of bile (a yellowish-green fluid)
  • Fighting infections
  • Building muscle
  • Manufacturing and regulating the production of certain hormones
  • Storing iron, vitamins and other essential chemicals

As with other vital organs, such as the lungs and heart, it is important to look after the liver by:

  • Eating healthy foods from all the main food groups
  • Giving up smoking
  • Drinking less alcohol or quitting altogether
  • Exercising regularly
  • Making an appointment with a doctor if you’re concerned about your health

Failure to take proper care of the liver may lead to a liver disorder that could affect its proper functioning.

Fortunately, the liver is a very resilient organ and displays little evidence of ‘ageing’. This means that for most people it should continue to function properly into old age, although some people may be affected by genetic or inherited liver disorders.

To arrange a consultation with a liver consultant please contact The Princess Grace Hospital, Liver, Bile Duct and Pancreas Unit