Alcohol consumption leading cause of liver disease, study finds
Alcohol consumption is the leading cause of liver disease, according to a new study. The research, conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, found that alcohol was responsible for nearly 40 percent of deaths from cirrhosis, a chronic liver disease.
The study, which analyzed data from 195 countries from 1990 to 2017, also found that liver disease deaths had increased by 65 percent over that time period. The increase was largely due to alcohol consumption, particularly in countries with high levels of alcohol intake.
The findings highlight the need for increased efforts to address the harms of alcohol use. “The increasing burden of liver disease globally is inextricably linked to the increasing consumption of alcohol, particularly in low- and middle-income countries,” said study co-author Dr. Theo Vos.
Liver disease can have serious health consequences, including liver failure and cancer. It is also associated with other health problems such as obesity and diabetes.
While alcohol is the leading cause of liver disease, other factors such as viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can also contribute to the condition. However, the study found that alcohol was responsible for a larger share of liver disease deaths than any other cause.
To address the issue, the study’s authors recommend measures such as increasing taxes on alcohol, regulating advertising and marketing of alcoholic beverages, and providing greater access to treatment for alcohol use disorders.
“Reducing alcohol consumption should be an integral part of liver disease prevention strategies in all countries,” said Dr. Vos. “More needs to be done to reduce the availability and affordability of alcohol, particularly in low- and middle-income countries.”
The study’s findings also have implications for individuals who choose to drink alcohol. “People should be aware that alcohol consumption, even at moderate levels, can have serious health consequences,” said Dr. Vos. “They should also be aware of the potential risk factors for liver disease and take steps to mitigate them.”