Alcohol liver disease rate trebles in 12 years

THE number of young people presenting with alcoholic liver disease (ALD) more than trebled over a 12-year-period, leading research experts have said.

Writing a letter to the editor in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism, health service researchers and addiction specialist Dr Bobby Smyth warned that the rate of ALD discharges from hospital increased by 247% for 15 to 34-year-olds and by 224% for 35 to 49-year-olds between 1995 and 2007.

They also warned that while the majority of ALD discharges were male, there was a higher proportion of females in the youngest age group, attributing this to the fact that young Irish women binge drink in the same way men do.

Women are more likely to experience earlier onset of ALD and at lower levels of alcohol consumption, the researchers said.

They said the mortality rate per 100,000 population aged 15 years or more who died while in hospital was 2.6 in 1995, and rose to 7.1 in 2007 — an increase of 173%.

As those who died outside hospital is not included the actual ALD mortality rate in Ireland is likely to be higher.

“Recent school surveys have shown that 47% of 17 year olds had their first alcoholic drink at the age of 14 or under, while 74% had been drunk at least once,” they wrote. “This is a worrying trend but is not surprising as survey data have shown that 18–29-year-old drinkers have the highest level of alcohol consumption among Irish drinkers and two-fifths binge drink weekly.”

Overall during the 12-year period, the rate of ALD per 100,000 adults increased by 190%, from 28.3 in 1995 to 82.2 in 2007.

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