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Drink rise lifts death rates: Study

Drink rise lifts death rates: Study
Photo: Drink rise lifts death rates: Study
A jump in the number of people dying of liver disease has been triggered by an increase in alcohol consumption, Public Health England says.

A startling jump in the number of people dying of liver disease has been triggered by an increase in alcohol consumption, Public Health England (PHE) has warned.

The first ever regional study into the preventable disease revealed a 40 per cent rise in deaths over the past 12 years, with men twice as likely to be diagnosed as women.

Twenty-four hour drinking and higher levels of alcohol consumption are directly linked to the "rapid and shocking" increase in death rates, said Professor Julia Verne who led the research for PHE.

The study uncovered a stark north-south divide with up to four times as many male adults dying from the disease in Blackpool in the North West, 58.4 per 100,000, than Central Bedfordshire in the South East, 13 per 100,000.

In the seaside town there is one licensed premise for every 72 adults, almost half (48per cent) of which have 24 hour licences, compared with one for every 280 adults in the district of Central Bedfordshire where less than 10 per cent have 24 hour licences.

The disease is the only major cause of death in England which is on the rise, while in the rest of Europe the death rate is falling in line with alcohol consumption.

Some 7,481 people died from liver disease in 2001 compared with 10,948 in 2012, making it one of England's top killers.

Professor Verne, who is head of liver disease at PHE, said the traditional profile of a liver disease patient was shifting to include many adults in their 40s, 50s and 60s as well as a growing number in their 20s and 30s.

"These results were far more shocking than I imagined. This is a rapid increase in deaths in just over ten years", Professor Verne said.

"It's clear from looking at the data that the continuous availability of alcohol, and not just binge drinking, is fuelling an increase in deaths from liver disease.

The profiles also found it is an emerging threat among the increasingly obese population in England while the third largest cause of the killer disease, hepatitis B and C, is also increasing.

Liver disease is one of the leading cause of premature death in England, responsible for one in 10 deaths of people in their 40s.

Copyright AAP 2014.

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