Liver

Liver Summary
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body, and is actually an gland. The liver has a wide variety of critical functions such as manufacturing proteins and metabolizing fats and carbohydrates. The liver also eliminates harmful biochemical waste products from the body (alcohol, drugs, toxins). The liver secretes bile that aids in digestion. Examples of diseases of the liver include cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer, and fatty liver. Symptoms of liver disease include bleeding, easy bruising, edema, fatigue, and jaundice.
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Liver facts

  • The liver is the largest solid organ in the body, weighing on average about 3.5 pounds.
  • The liver carries out a large number of critical functions, including manufacture of essential proteins, and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.
  • The liver also serves to eliminate harmful biochemical waste products and detoxify alcohol, certain drugs, and environmental toxins.
  • The liver forms and secretes bile that contains bile acids to aid in the digestion and intestinal absorption (taking in) of fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
  • Diseases that may affect the liver include hepatitis (inflammation of the liver), cirrhosis (scarring), fatty liver, and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma).
  • Symptoms of liver disease may include bleeding or easy bruising, swelling, fatigue, and jaundice (yellow coloring to the skin and whites of the eyes).

Liver overview

The liver is the largest solid organ in the body. People may not know that the liver is also the largest gland in the body. The liver is actually two different types of gland. It is a secretory gland because it has a specialized structure that is designed to allow it to make and secrete bile into the bile ducts. It also is an endocrine gland since it makes and secretes chemicals directly into the blood that have effects on other organs in the body. Bile is a fluid that both aids in digestion and absorption of fats as well as carries waste products into the intestine.

There are all sorts of glands in the body that make and secrete substances, including the pancreas (digestive enzymes), thyroid and other endocrine glands (hormones), gastric glands in the stomach (acid), and lymph glands or nodes (lymph).


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