"Liver disease is an important cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States, affecting persons of all ages, but most frequently individuals in the productive years of life, between the ages of 40 and 60 years. Liver disease also disproportionately affects minority individuals and the economically disadvantaged".* Liver disease is a broad term that includes any genetic or acquired condition which impairs normal liver function. The American Liver Foundation recognizes over 100 types of liver disease.* Familiar forms of liver diseases include viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, autoimmune liver disease, drug induced liver injury, cholelithiasis and Wilson's disease.

The liver has tremendous functional reserve which often masks minor liver damage. Liver disease becomes apparent when injury exceeds the liver's capacity to compensate. Liver injury can result from a variety of causes, including: toxins, infectious agents, diet, ischemic events, inherited conditions or medical treatment.

The liver responds to injury in several ways:

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