Daily Archives: 16/01/2015

Most people who die from liver disease AREN’T alcoholics

Most people who die from liver disease AREN’T alcoholics – they just drink nearly every day’.  Well that’s a newspaper headline isn’t it?  You can always rely on the Daily Wail for a high drama headline! 😉

The news piece goes on to quote Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, saying that ‘if we don’t do anything about it by 2025 it will almost certainly be one of the top two, it is a major epidemic.’

‘The majority of people who die of alcohol-related liver disease are not alcoholics. They drink every day or most days – not getting slaughtered, but just drinking that bit too much.    Instead of having a glass of wine or a beer after work they’re having two or three. Just topping up every day and never giving their liver a rest.’

Does that make them alcoholics, heavy drinkers, chronic drinkers or just normal?   We can sit here and split hairs all day, but ultimately my opinion, your opinion, even the finger-wagging of your GP doesn’t matter.   They are not categories your liver recognises. It doesn’t care whether you necked those five pints with a crowd of mates to wet a baby’s head, or whether you drank them alone to numb the pain of an argument. 

‘If you are going to drink, you must take two to three consecutive days off every week to give your liver a chance to rejuvenate – regardless of how much you’re drinking.The important word here is ‘consecutive’
It’s not about judgements, just biology.  And liver disease can develop slowly, but its endgame can be apocalyptic.  It’s not a question of lying in hospital with yellow skin and a glorified tummy ache.  Besides its function of filtering out the toxins from drink and drugs, the organ is also vital for hormone balance, blood clotting, and protecting certain parts of the body from infection. Remove its protection, and things will start going to shit very rapidly.   Believe me, you don’t want to see what happens to brain function when the liver can no longer dispose of bilirubin, a by-product of dead blood cells.

In the last 35 years we’ve allowed alcohol to become a commodity,’ says Mr Langford.

‘In the 70s it would have been fairly unusual for my mum to have had alcohol in her shopping, whereas now a bottle of wine goes into the basket along with the milk, eggs and bread.’

I had to laugh at the timing of this piece as 2 weeks before Christmas it was going to be destined to be ignored by anyone who thinks this was sucking the joy out of life and the festive season!!  Good that the health message is filtering into the mainstream media though 🙂
This comment to the article made me almost spit my tea over the keyboard:

My husband and I are very sociable and drink a fair amount. At this time of the year, especially, our alcohol consumption in a day can go like this: morning coffee with a splash of coffee liqueur, mimosas with brunch, egg nog with a dash of whiskey, glass of wine at dinner, beer or three at football games, etc.  Good god, this is alcohol with breakfast, lunch and dinner ……..

Edited to add 7/11/16 (Alcohol Policy UK):

Scotland’s Alcoholic Liver Disease rates were explored in a Conversation article, warning of the continuing upward trend. The latest figures show 3,788 hospitalisations each year, but explaining why Scots drink more than most other countries is complex, though more could be done around prevention say the authors.