Q:

What is the normal size of a liver?

A:

The average liver size is 7 centimeters for women and 10 1/2 centimeters for men. Liver size increases with age and depends on sex, body size and shape. A women’s liver averages 2 to 3 pounds and a man’s liver averages 3 pounds.

The liver is located in the upper right-hand section of the abdominal cavity and is protected by the ribs. It is reddish-brown and made up of two main lobes. Each lobe consists of thousands of lobules that are very small. Each lobule consists of liver cells, or hepatocytes.

The liver performs more than 300 separate functions. It produces proteins for blood plasma, resists infection by removing bacteria from the blood stream and creating immune factors, regulates blood clotting, processes hemoglobin, regulates the blood levels of amino acids, and produces cholesterol. Three primary functions of the liver are cleaning the blood stream, producing bile and storing glycogen. The liver cleans the bloodstream by removing toxins from the blood and by cleaning blood that is enriched with vitamins and minerals. It produces bile that helps the body absorb fat into the bloodstream, and it stores glycogen, which is released when a person’s blood glucose levels drop. Being overweight and drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver.


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