- Deaths among young
adults due to alcohol-related cirrhosis were high across all states from
the West to the East except in Maryland
- Cirrhosis causes scarring of liver tissue
and is the primary cause of chronic liver failure or end-stage liver
- The increase
in liver deaths highlights new challenges in preventing cirrhosis deaths that are caused beyond
Deaths due to end-stage liver disease caused
primarily by alcohol-related cirrhosis jumped by 65 percent among young adults,
says a new study. The deaths were seen mostly among adults aged between 25-34,
who were white, American Indian and Hispanic, and who belonged to all 52 states
but one between 1999-2016.
The data is published in the journal BMJ
Liver specialist Elliot B. Tapper, M.D., and
study co-author Neehar Parikh, M.D., M.S., who collected national data to
conduct the study say "more young people are drinking themselves to death in
communities across the country."
‘Cirrhosis, if untreated, can cause permanent damage and death of the liver. Deaths due to alcohol-related cirrhosis has drastically increased among White, American Indian and Hispanic young adults in the United States.’
Dr. Tapper has witnessed the disturbing shift in
demographics among the patients with liver failure he treats at Michigan
"Each alcohol-related death means decades of
lost life, broken families and lost economic productivity,"
Tapper, a member of the University of Michigan Division of Gastroenterology and
Hepatology and health services researcher at the U-M Institute for Healthcare
Policy and Innovation. "In addition, medical care of those dying from
cirrhosis costs billions of dollars."
Cirrhosis is the
scarring of liver tissue and is caused mainly due to alcohol consumption,
hepatitis C, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Dr. Tapper says
that even after using several strategies including antiviral medications that
might one day eradicate hepatitis
infection, there was still a rise in liver deaths indicating that
more work needs to be done in the field of non-hepatitis C-mediated cirrhosis. Hepatitis
C is a major liver threat seen in Baby Boomers.
There was also a positive connection seen between
deaths due to alcohol-related cirrhosis and the global financial crisis that
happened in 2009. Losing jobs and homes might have led to increased alcohol use
during that period, although this might need to be confirmed.
Deaths due to Alcohol-related Cirrhosis
In this study, the research team wanted to determine trends in liver disease deaths due to cirrhosis and to
find out the most impacted groups across the country.
To conduct the investigation, the researchers
examined death certificates compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's Wide-ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research project.
Adults in the age group of 25 to 34 who were alcohol
consumers experienced the highest average annual increase (10.5 %)
in cirrhosis deaths entirely caused by alcohol-related liver disease
, the authors say.
There were a total of 460,760 deaths during the seven-year
study period; about one-third or 150,000 of the deaths were due to
hepatocellular carcinoma, a common type of liver cancer
that is often caused by
The number of lives lost to liver cancer in 2016 alone
amounted to 11,073 which was double the number of deaths in 1999.
Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and New Mexico, recorded the
highest numbers of cirrhosis deaths; Maryland was the only showed that showed
an improvement in cirrhosis mortality.
Fatalities occurred mostly among Whites, Amercian Indians and
Hispanics and least among Asians and Pacific Islanders.
"The rapid rise in liver deaths underscores
gaps in care and opportunities for prevention,"
Parikh, study co-author and liver specialist at Michigan Medicine.
The authors say that deaths due to
alcohol-related liver disease can be entirely prevented by strategies such as:
- Taxes on alcohol
- Raising the minimum prices for alcohol and
- Reducing marketing and advertising related to
Studies have associated higher alcohol costs with
decreased alcohol-related deaths.
Patients with cirrhosis feel abdominal pain, loss
of appetite, tiredness, weight loss and spider-like blood vessels found
slightly beneath the skin surface.
It is essential to manage cirrhosis with a healthy
lifestyle and medications to prevent further liver damage. References:
- Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis Deaths Skyrocket in Young Adults - (https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/lab-report/alcohol-related-cirrhosis-deaths-skyrocket-young-adults)
- Cirrhosis of the Liver - (https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/cirrhosis/information-for-the-newly-diagnosed)