Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The surge in liver disease may NOT be caused by binge drinking after all!


We've got pretty used to one or other doctor popping up on the airwaves or in the newspapers claiming that the "epidemic" of alcohol is driving up liver disease figures. So it comes as a welcome surprise to read an article about the "explosion" in liver problems that doesn't lay the blame on binge drinking or even call for minimum pricing:

Dr Sulleman Moreea, a consultant gastroenterologist at Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said while people were aware of the dangers of alcohol, more people needed to be aware of other causes of liver disease.

“There is a silent disease out there – hepatitis B and C,” he said. “When I started work in Bradford in 2004 I had 150 patients with hepatitis C on my books. Today I have 780 patients.

“If you don’t treat these patients they will develop cirrhosis of the liver. Every two months we are seeing a middle aged person dying from hepatitis C and we will be seeing more and more. We have people desperate for a new liver – some who have waited for three years"

This appears - unlike the lies and misrepresentation that typify the anti-booze campaigns - to be a genuine public health issue.

The blood-borne viral infection is spread through sharing contaminated needles, non-sterilised equipment for tattooing, acupuncture or body piercing, from an infected mother to her baby at birth or through a blood transfusion in a country where blood is not screened.

As I said, a more balanced piece about liver disease demonstrating that the problem is not solely caused by the mythological binge-drinking pandemic.


1 comment:

Ivan D said...

This is not the only reason to question the claims of the prohibitionists Simon. There was a steep rise in overall liver deaths during the 90s followed by a plateau. This cannot be explained by the simplistic affordability of alcohol theory favoured by zealots and intellectually challenged politicians. It is probable that a number of causes are involved and an unusual potential contributory factor is unearthed over at Straight Statistics. Well worth a read as usual.