Last year, during my year without beer when I gave up all alcohol to raise money for charity, I posted about how high levels of drinking and obesity mean England is one of the few places in Europe seeing a rise in liver disease, a major preventable disease and asked are you in drink denial?
Millions of adults fool themselves into thinking they are modest drinkers when they down enough to be classed as ‘bingers’. I posted about a study that found a huge mismatch between the amount of alcohol we say we are consuming and what is actually being bought. When the two figures are compared, 40 per cent of sales are unaccounted for.
Now the Mail is reporting that rising numbers of people going to hospital with liver problems caused by alcoholism. It says that growing numbers of ‘everyday drinkers’ are being admitted to hospital with liver disease – including many middle-aged, middle-class women.
Official figures show an extra 1,000 patients are treated each year for alcohol-related liver damage, many of whom would not usually be regarded as alcoholics.
Experts say most new cases are normal people unwittingly drinking too much, such as women who enjoy a bottle of wine a day, or successful businessmen who have working lunches.
Over time, drinking alcohol day in day out leads to the liver becoming fatty, inflamed and, in the most serious cases, incurably scarred.
The data reveals that alcohol-related liver disease accounted for 14,886 admissions in hospitals in England in 2009/10, 15,858 in 2010/11 and 16,865 during 2011/12.
And the problem is not limited to those with decades of drinking under their belt.
Figures released last month showed that alcohol-related liver damage is becoming increasingly common in the under-30s, with the number of hospital admissions in this age group more than doubling between 2002 and 2012.
The charity Alcohol Concern described the statistics as ‘terrifying’.
Chief executive Eric Appleby said: ‘We’re seeing an increase in alcohol-related liver disease across both sexes, in every age group, in every region of the country.
‘It’s particularly sad to see the number of young people with this awful disease more than doubling.
‘We have to start taking this seriously. If this was any other illness, immediate action would be taken to halt this.
‘So we call on the Department of Health to outline what action it intends to take.’
He added that there needed to be ‘an environment where alcohol isn’t cheaper than water and available on every corner’.
Andrew Langford, of the British Liver Trust, said the bulk of people being treated would not be seen by others as alcoholics.
He added: ‘More people are drinking every day and not giving their livers a rest.
‘That could be anyone… I don’t think that the middle-class, middle-aged woman, who looks at her peer group and sees that they are all drinking the same amount, thinks there is anything wrong with having the best part of a bottle of wine most nights.’
Mr Langford said weekly binges, in which people drink a huge amount one night a week, can also take a toll.
The number of livers donated to people with alcohol-related liver disease has also risen – from 146 in 2009 to 197 in 2012.
Alcoholics are eligible for transplants but most centres insist they prove their commitment by remaining sober for several months first.
The British Liver Trust said it is very important to offer organs to anyone who needs them, but that the epidemic of alcoholic liver damage means ‘far too many’ people die while waiting for a transplant.
Labour’s public health spokesman Diane Abbott, who obtained the figures in a parliamentary question, said England was in the grip of a ‘liver disease crisis’ and that ‘radical’ measures were needed.
This could include setting a minimum price per unit of alcohol.
2013 Miles in 2013
I am doing my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge in aid of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust as I have been surprised since I started fundraising for the CF Trust just how many people are unaware of this disease and so I hope my efforts will not just raise money, but also awareness of the UK’s most most common life-threatening inherited disease.
The first person to commit to sponsoring my 2013 mile challenge has committed to 1p per mile (£20.13 in total) and this got me thinking. I am hoping that as many as possible of those reading this will commit to do the same and the best thing is, if each person does this on a “pay as you go” type approach all you will need to part with is approx £2 just after each pay day. In January I completed 205.9 miles, in February I completed a further 200.9 miles, in March I completed 185.7 miles and in April I completed 192.1 miles. If you can please spare £7.85 to help the Cystic Fibrosis Trust it will be greatly appreciated.
The easiest way to give your sponsorship is to visit my Just Giving page: http://www.justgiving.com/2012-AYearWithoutBeer-CF.
2013 Miles in 2013 – The rules
The rules for my 2013 miles in 2013 challenge are quite simple:
- All miles must be completely self powered (no motors, sails, etc)
- I must be able to evidence all miles, either via GPS or with a picture of any static gym equipment
To complete my 2013 miles I will be running, cycling, rowing and who knows, I might even try a few other self powered methods along the way.