Alcohol is killing more of us

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Alcohol abuse is on the rise, and is contributing to a huge jump in liver disease. That is news that should sober us, quite literally.

It should lead to stronger measures from the federal and state levels against the pervasiveness of alcohol consumption as a daily activity for too many of us.

The study by the University of Michigan reported that deaths from liver disease, including cirrhosis, jumped by 65 percent in the United States from 1999 to 2016.

The study, published in BMJ, formerly called the British Medical Journal, squarely blames alcohol consumption.

The doctors who authored the study say it confirms that more young people are drinking themselves to death. It says adults 25 to 34 experienced the highest average annual increase in cirrhosis deaths – about 10.5 percent each year.

Cirrhosis caused a total of 460,760 deaths during the seven-year study period; about one-third were attributed to hepatocellular carcinoma, a common type of liver cancer that is often caused by cirrhosis, researchers found.

In 2016 alone, 11,073 lives were lost to liver cancer, which was double the number of deaths in 1999.

Medical experts say the study should be a wake-up call to medical providers and to lawmakers to focus on disease prevention and risk-factor modification, while at the same time shifting resources to address the already growing burden of cirrhosis and liver cancer.

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