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UK sees 46% spike in alcohol-related liver disease deaths over last decade




New statistics released today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveal that alcohol-related deaths in the UK have continued to rise, with over 10,000 people dying from alcohol-related causes since 2022.

Of these fatalities, an alarming 76% — totalling 7,635 deaths — were caused by alcohol-related liver disease, which is a 31% increase since 2019 and a 46% increase since 2012.

Parts of the UK, such as North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Humber, were found to have disproportionately high mortality rates. Findings also revealed that Scotland and Northern Ireland had the highest rates of alcohol-specific deaths in 2022.

‘We cannot afford to overlook the escalating crisis of alcohol-related harm,’ says Pamela Healy, chief executive at the British Liver Trust.

Alcohol is the primary cause of liver disease in the UK, and there's a common misconception that only “alcoholics” suffer liver damage but more than one in five individuals currently consume alcohol in a manner that could be putting their livers at risk.’

 

Recognising the need to tackle the growing problem, the British Liver Trust is calling for the Government to deliver a comprehensive alcohol strategy, suggesting the UK Government reinforce public health measures that address the affordability, promotion and availability of alcohol to reduce its harmful impact.

The charity is also calling for additional support for people who are drinking at harmful levels and early intervention programmes for those who are not dependent but are still drinking well above the Government’s recommended guideline of 14 units a week.

Drinking more than 14 units per week, according to the NHS, puts you at risk of getting cancer, a stroke, heart disease, liver disease, and also causing damage to the brain and nervous system.

The risk for alcohol-related liver disease increases when people drink more than the recommended limits.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that women who drink over 35 units of alcohol per week need to be screened – via transient elastography (often called a FibroScan) – to check for liver damage.

Liver disease usually gives no symptoms until it becomes very advanced and the only treatment is a transplant. These scans are essential to find people with the early stages of the disease – at a point when if they change their drinking habits disease progression can be stopped or reversed.

Yet, the British Liver Trust says that in many parts of the country, patients simply do not have access to these scans.

Healy adds: ‘As the numbers continue to climb, the time for action is now. Governments, healthcare providers, and communities must unite to combat alcohol harm and safeguard public health.’

If you’re concerned about your liver health, make a GP appointment and talk to your doctor about liver function tests.

 

Source: Nana Okosi, Yahoo News UK

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