You cannot inherit cirrhosis from your parents, but some conditions that may lead to cirrhosis can be passed down in your genes.

These inherited conditions, such as hemochromatosis and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, can cause you to develop cirrhosis even if you don’t drink a lot of alcohol.

Read on to learn more about how cirrhosis (a type of liver disease that involves liver scarring) can be caused by genetic conditions, which conditions most increase your chance of developing cirrhosis, and what other risk factors you may need to consider.

Cirrhosis isn’t genetic.

But some conditions that run in families can increase your risk of cirrhosis even if you don’t have any other risk factors. These conditions result from one or both of your parents passing down certain genes or gene mutations.

Some of these conditions are related to proteins that help your body process substances that are usually removed from your body through natural waste disposal processes involving your liver.

If your liver can’t process substances such as iron and copper, they can build up to dangerously high levels and cause cirrhosis as they damage your liver tissues over time.

Some genetic conditions also make you more likely to develop cirrhosis due to lifestyle factors, such as alcohol use, because your liver can’t process fat properly, causing fat to build up in your liver.

A 2021 study found that variants in the FAF2, HSD17B13, and SERPINA1 genes are all linked to a higher risk of cirrhosis related to fat deposits in the liver.

A 2023 study also found that mutations in the ANXA1 gene can increase the risk of cirrhosis.

These mutations can cause immune cells called T cells to attack healthy liver cells, leading to liver damage. This is called liver fibrosis. Scarred liver cells lose their typical function, and scarring across your liver leads to cirrhosis.

Several genetic diseases can cause cirrhosis.


Hemochromatosis happens when iron builds up to high levels in your bloodstream because your body can’t process it properly. This condition is caused by a mutation in the HFE gene, which helps your body make iron.

Having too much iron in your liver damages liver cells, leading to cirrhosis. Hemochromatosis can also increase your risk of cirrhosis linked to alcohol, diabetes, and heart conditions.

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is a genetic condition that stops your liver cells from properly processing certain proteins. It’s caused by a mutation in your SERPINA1 gene on chromosome 14.

This can lead to long-term inflammation in your liver tissues that can eventually cause cirrhosis.

Autoimmune hepatitis

Autoimmune hepatitis happens when your immune system attacks healthy liver cells. This can damage liver tissues and cause cirrhosis over time.

It’s not clear exactly which gene might be linked specifically to this condition. But it’s associated with variants of human leukocyte antigen genes that are also linked to other autoimmune conditions, such as celiac disease.

Cystic fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition in a gene on chromosome 7 that makes proteins involved in transporting chloride and water throughout your body.

It’s known to damage cells in the airways and liver, leading to conditions such as lung disease and cirrhosis.

Wilson’s disease

Wilson’s disease is a genetic condition that causes copper to build up in your body because your liver cannot process it properly.

This condition is caused by a mutation in the ATP7B gene, which is involved in how your body uses copper. To develop Wilson’s disease, you have to inherit the mutation from both of your parents.

Other risk factors for cirrhosis include:

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about cirrhosis and genetics.

Who is most at risk for cirrhosis?

Genetic conditions aside, people who drink a lot of alcohol over a long period or contract infections that affect the liver, such as viral hepatitis, have the highest risk for cirrhosis.

People who have a genetic condition such as hemochromatosis or autoimmune hepatitis have an even higher risk of developing cirrhosis due to lifestyle factors like alcohol consumption.

There’s also evidence that undergoing bariatric surgery can increase your risk of developing cirrhosis because your gastrointestinal tract doesn’t absorb enough vitamins and other substances from your food. This can damage your liver tissues and increase your risk of cirrhosis.

Do all heavy drinkers get cirrhosis?

Not everyone who drinks alcohol heavily will get cirrhosis. Some people with alcohol use disorder may experience other health effects but may not have enough liver damage to cause cirrhosis.

A 2019 research review suggests that women are more likely to get cirrhosis after consuming just one alcoholic drink per day but that both men and women have a high risk of cirrhosis after five or more drinks per day.

What age is most likely to get cirrhosis?

You can receive a cirrhosis diagnosis at any age, but it’s more likely to develop at ages 50 years and older.

In a 2018 study, researchers examined more than 34,000 cirrhosis deaths between 1999 and 2016 and found that more people were dying of cirrhosis at younger ages, with the greatest increases in people 25–34 years old.

Cirrhosis is not a genetic condition, but several genetic conditions can increase your risk of developing it.

Consult a medical professional if you have a family history of genetic conditions that are linked to liver disease or high blood levels of a substance such as iron or copper.