Tuesday 6 December 2016

Surge in Irish women with liver disease caused by alcohol

Published 02/08/2016 | 12:15

Surge in young Irish women with alcohol-related liver disease.
Surge in young Irish women with alcohol-related liver disease.

Young Irish women have shown the biggest increase.

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Liver specialist Professor Frank Murray said young, working Irish women have shown the biggest increase in liver disease caused by an attitude of “recklessness” towards alcohol.

“Commonly they are in their 40s, less commonly in their 30s and sometimes over 40s as well,” he said on RTE Morning Ireland.

Professor Murray, of Beaumont Hospital, said it is a silent disease that often shows no symptoms, meaning people may not be aware until it is too late.

“People don’t identify any symptoms, they’re not out of breath, running out of energy, there’s nothing that they will recognise as specific. Interestingly people who drink heavily feel terrible all the time, that’s the alcohol, rather than the liver disease component of it."

“The majority of people who present with liver failure have not had antecedent symptoms which are attributable to the liver failure itself.”

“Unfortunately many patients who present will die in their initial presentation, or they are in hospital for a very long time with complex problems related to their liver failure.”

Professor Murray, the president of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland, explained that many people are unaware of how much alcohol they are drinking.

“There is a recklessness to it, most people underestimate how much alcohol they consume, by 61 per cent. There is a huge amount of under estimation of what they drink and of the risk.”

He said that part of the solution is to reduce the availability of cheap alcohol and become aware about the level of consumption.

“What happens is people buy wine and in some cases people drink half a bottle a night several times during the week and a bottle each day at the weekends. That’s enough to cause liver failure.”

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