Over the last ten years there has been a 50 per cent increase in the number of young people admitted for the treatment of liver problems. This is an alarming development as this was a problem only faced by older people. But, now it is being diagnosed in teens.
Heavy drinking affects the liver, causing jaundice which leads to coma and early death. It can also lead to cirrhosis in which liver tissue is destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. Again, this disease which should logically be the problem of older people, is affecting an increasing number of young people.
The fact that alcohol is easily available at very cheap rates has led to the rise in drinking-related deaths. Professor Roger Williams comments, "The fact that a can of Coca-Cola is often significantly more expensive than a can of lager says something of the warped values of today's society."
This is why Dr Jonathan Mitchell, a consultant hepatologist from Plymouth, termed the latest statistics as a 'gross underestimate.' "Everyone who works with alcohol, when we see these statistics, we realise they are a gross underestimate."