Liver diseases rising due to increasing alcohol consumption — Report

Variety of beer used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: nigerianbrands]
Variety of beer used to illustrate the story. [Photo credit: nigerianbrands]

Deaths due to liver diseases are on the rise in the United States and researchers have blamed it on the increasing consumption of alcohol.

A research led by the University of Michigan, found that deaths due to cirrhosis (a severe liver disease) or liver disease is on the rise in the country.

The report published by Medical News Today said the researchers observed that in the U.S., an increasing number of people acquire cirrhosis due to excessive alcohol intake.

Cirrhosis can be caused by several health issues including hepatitis C and fatty liver disease.

The lead researcher, Elliott Trapper, a liver specialist from University of Michigan, and his colleague Neehar Parikh, noticed that in 1999-2016, the number of deaths caused by cirrhosis has been on the rise in 49 out of 50 states.

The researchers found that cirrhosis-caused deaths have increased 65 per cent and alcohol use is a prominent cause of late stage liver diseases.

Unfortunately, the most affected population are the youth.

The study noted that adults aged 25-34 of white decent, America-India and Hispanic are the most exposed.

The highest average increase in cirrhosis-related deaths per year was seen among young adults, at an approximately 10.5 per cent rise each year.

Mr Tapper said they thought they would see improvement when it comes to the number of deaths due to liver diseases, “but these data make it clear”.

“Even after hepatitis C, we will still have our work cut out for us,” he said.

There has been an improved treatment of hepatitis C and this expected to reflect on the number of deaths related to liver diseases.

“We suspect that there is a connection between increased alcohol use and unemployment associated with global financial crisis. But more research is needed.”

During the seven-year period of the study, 460,760 cirrhosis related deaths occurred.

Of these, approximately one third were due to a type of liver cancer called ‘hepatocellular carcinoma’. This stems from cirrhosis.

Parikh warns that the rapid rise in liver deaths underscores gaps in care and opportunities for prevention.

According to the researchers — the states where most cirrhosis deaths have been recorded are Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, and New Mexico. Only one state showed a decrease in liver disease-related mortality: Maryland.

The authors said liver disease due to alcohol consumption is entirely preventable.

They urge states to implement strategic measures, such as the implementation of alcohol taxes, and limiting adverts promoting alcoholic beverages.

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