The death rate in the United States from alcoholic cirrhosis has tripled over two decades

Monday, June 20, 2022 (HealthDay News) — A new study suggests Americans may have a mass drinking problem, which has been exacerbated by the obesity epidemic. The new study finds that deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis have tripled in 20 years.

In 1999, alcoholic cirrhosis – an advanced form of alcohol-related liver disease – killed just over 6,000 Americans (a rate of 3 per 100,000). By 2019, deaths from this condition had risen to nearly 24,000 (a rate of 11 per 100,000).

“The hypothesis is that people drink more and start earlier in life,” said lead researcher Dr Charles Henkins, Sir Richard Dole I Professor and Senior Academic Adviser to Dean Charles E. Schmidt School of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University. in Boca Raton.

Henkins added that there may be other factors at work, including the dramatic increase in obesity, besides sedentary lifestyles.

“This leads to fatty liver,” Henkins said. “The same thing alcohol does. My hypothesis is that the reason we see more liver disease earlier is not only that people drink more, but they eat more and exercise less, so the damage to the liver is accelerated.”

Obesity and lack of exercise are also causes of the diabetes epidemic, as well as heart disease, stroke and some types of cancer. He noted that “the risk factors are the same.”

In terms of drinking, Hennekens said, people should limit the amount of alcohol they drink to no more than two drinks a day for men and no more than one drink for women.

He added that doctors should advise their patients that those who consume a lot of alcohol have the highest death rates from both cirrhosis and heart disease.

The study authors note that alcoholic cirrhosis accounts for a third of all liver transplants in the United States.

“While the data suggests that those who drink one or two drinks a day have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who don’t, it is also true that the difference between drinking smaller and larger amounts of alcohol means the difference between preventing and causing early death,” Henkins said. .

For the study, Hennekens and colleagues used data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look at mortality trends from alcoholic cirrhosis from 1999 to 2019.

The researchers found that during these two decades there were statistically significant increases in deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis in every age group of 25 and over. The largest sevenfold increase was among those aged 24 to 35, and the largest increase was seen among those aged 65 to 74.

The report was recently published online in the American Journal of Medicine.

Alcohol-related liver disease is one of the leading causes of liver-related deaths in the United States, said Dr. Tiffany Wu, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“The increasing prevalence of high-risk alcohol use and alcohol use disorder has fueled these trends in the development of chronic liver disease and its complications,” she said. “Although effective treatments for alcohol use disorder are available, they are currently underutilized.”

Barriers to care include other medical conditions, stigma around addiction and limited access to care, Wu said.

“Existing models of care delivery have been further constrained by challenges related to the pandemic,” she said. “Therefore, there is an urgent need to improve methods for identifying individuals at high risk for disease, as well as to use new digital platforms and technology to personalize treatment and prevention.”

more information

To learn more about liver disease, head to the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Sources: Charles Hennekens, MD, DrPH, First Sir Richard Doll Professor and Senior Academic Advisor to the Dean, Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton; Tiffany Wu, MD, gastroenterologist, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; American Journal of Medicine, May 27, 2022, online

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